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Jelf Employee Benefits : expats return home after failing to budget for healthcare

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Jelf Employee Benefits is warning employers to fully research the healthcare system in destinations where they are looking to relocate employees. Whilst figures about ‘repatriation due to healthcare costs’ are not readily available, the company is increasingly hearing anecdotal evidence about the number of British people living abroad who are not able to afford the healthcare they require and therefore returning home. Also on the rise, are the number of cases where companies are picking up hefty costs for employee treatments, where inappropriate international PMI policies do not offer adequate cover.

Sarah Dennis, international healthcare director said: “There are a rising number of cases where people are forced to return to Britain to receive treatment. In some cases people return immediately as they need treatment quickly or in other cases the return is delayed but eventually inevitable, as the employer is paying an unsustainable cost for healthcare.”

Jelf Employee Benefits believes there are several factors which are leading to people finding themselves in this unfortunate situation:

– Not keeping up with rule changes where Governments assess their own social systems and implement a new system for expat healthcare.

– Little or no knowledge of the cost of specific treatments for either long term health issues or emergency treatment.

– Poor financial planning – the costs of financing employees living abroad may not be as economical as expected.

Sarah Dennis continued: “I can’t stress enough that outside of the UK there is no such thing as free healthcare. In most countries residents would contribute via taxes or have to pay to the local authorities, and if you are an expatriate you would need to obtain either a local level of healthcare cover or purchase an international healthcare policy. The benefit of the latter is that it is usually arranged prior to leaving the UK, written in compliance with UK financial standards and designed to be understood by a UK audience. By not adequately investigating local healthcare systems and properly understanding employees healthcare needs, organisations are jeopardizing their ability to successfully operate abroad.”