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Health care collaboration: working with brokers and clients

Health care collaboration: working with brokers and clients

With workplaces becoming increasingly diverse and complex, insurance brokers and plan sponsors are facing new demands for highly flexible and comprehensive health care benefits. This is particularly evident in the international private medical insurance market, as companies recognise the responsibilities they have for employees working overseas.

“Businesses have a duty of care to ensure they have proper cover for employees when they’re abroad,” says Shelly Sheperson, Sales and Service Manager, Aetna International. “They need great core services, like medical and dental, but they’re increasingly looking to partner with medical insurance experts who also have extensive knowledge of the health care sector too and can help them deliver a highly tailored package for their global employees.”

Corporate clients

Shelly’s work with plan sponsors, typically HR departments at large and small companies, focuses on building bespoke international health plans that fulfil the health care and wellness needs of both the company and their employees. That means delivering on all the core services, but it also means creating wider ranging benefits programs that support the wellbeing of employees while they’re overseas.

Aetna International’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a good example of how this support works. “We provide counselling through our own in house teams, across a number of areas,” explains Shelly. “Whether that’s helping employees deal with stress and anxiety as well as their causes, developing highly targeted health assessments and biometric tests, or providing legal advice, career coaching, and bespoke management training programs. We want our members and our plan sponsors to feel like they have our support, wherever they are and whatever needs they might have. That we’re a partner in their health care journey, working towards common goals.”

Nowhere is this more evident than in their work with a recent client. “One of our account managers is working with a plan sponsor who’s interested in gender reassignment surgery services,” says Shelly. “That’s something we can cover, but our client wanted to take it a step further and help develop a centre of excellence in that area. For the service itself, but also for the extensive counselling that goes alongside it. We’re working with them to help achieve that.”

“We offer more than just health insurance for the competitive cost of their health insurance premium,” says Damian Lenihan, Executive Director, Sales, Aetna International. “We give our plan sponsors peace of mind by caring for our members’ physical and mental well-being, which includes ensuring their safety no matter where they go. We prepare employees for their journeys abroad, long and short-term assignments, and educate them about their health. For clients with international employees, we support and care for their members from end to end.

“Recently, we supported a lady during and after her work-based relocation to Johannesburg,” says Damian. “As a diabetic, she wanted to make sure she had a ready supply of medication for her trip, as well as to find out about accessing emergency and non-urgent care once she was there. We were also able to discuss the impact of her disease on her future health, and she used our resources and picked up some practical tips on changing her lifestyle to improve her outlook. Once she was in South Africa, she found that she was struggling to adapt to the culture and new role, so she called us for assistance. We were able to provide her with telephone counselling, and helped her to find a local expat support group. Our member’s policy gives her access to daily security updates from the Aetna Security Assistance powered by Crisis24. We know that this holistic approach to our member’s health and well-being is of the utmost importance to our client, the lady’s employer, as well.”

Broker help

For Aetna International Sales Vice President, Kevin Swanson, collaborative working and partnership building is central to his work with insurance brokers. But an additional focus for him is using Aetna International’s wide-ranging experience and knowledge to provide his clients with strategic advice and administrative support.

“We help bring strategy and market awareness into the big national brokers as well as the smaller regional firms that major in the international benefits arena,” says Kevin, who has an extensive background developing rewards and employee benefit programs for global organisations. “But we also provide support and advice for brokers who are fundamentally domestic consultants in the U.S. for example, seeing occasional international opportunities. We help them handle the compliance and regulatory requirements they might not be aware of because they haven’t spent a lot of time in the international market place.” Providing that administrative support is critical to Aetna International in helping domestic-based and regional brokers develop their international offerings. “In many cases we become the broker’s eyes and ears on the market,” continues Kevin. ‘We’re almost acting like an internal consultant, offering training wheels initially, and then the guard rails that can help them launch their services as they grow.”

For both Shelley and Kevin, the key element that Aetna International brings to brokers and plan sponsors is the depth of their global experience. “Given the sixty years we’ve been in this business, we’ve got an enormous amount of understanding, awareness and knowledge,” says Kevin Swanson. “We can help plan sponsors and brokers develop international health care packages that take into account differences in global legislation and compliance, giving their employees and clients the support they need when they’re working abroad.” 

Shelly Sheperson agrees. “From a plan sponsor perspective, our experience helps us ease their administration and increases their knowledge base. We’re almost a one stop shop for their international benefits HR teams.”

For more information on how Aetna International works with corporate plan sponsors and medical insurance brokers to ensure the best health and wellness outcomes for members, contact our sales team.

Aetna® is a trademark of Aetna Inc. and is protected throughout the world by trademark registrations and treaties.

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