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Playing an away game requires serious homework

10 May 2018

Sport coaches all around the world understand that playing a match on foreign soil requires different preparation and a different game plan than when playing on home territory. Whether the team involved is Bafana Bafana or Barcelona, the All Blacks or the Indian Cricket team, thorough preparation, informed by an understanding of foreign conditions, is necessary to determine how tactics need to be adjusted if teams want to compete in foreign climes. This means that coaches need to be at the very top of their game when playing away.

In the same way, South African brokers need to be on top of their game when preparing their clients for an “away game”, particularly when it comes to health insurance for South African expatriates operating elsewhere in Africa. So says David Van Der Kooij, Hollard Cigna Health Head of Sales in Southern Africa.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail

“The availability of health care infrastructure, the quality of medical attention, and the price of treatment differs vastly among African countries. Health insurance plans that don’t take these differences into account often produce sub-optimal results for insured and employers alike. Similarly, health plans that effectively ignore the state of health care provision in these countries and rely too heavily on medical evacuation to South Africa are likely to prove very expensive in the long run. Brokers worth their salt must approach African expatriate insurance as an away game, do their homework thoroughly and properly evaluate alternative strategies,” says Van Der Kooij.

“It’s here that Hollard Cigna Health offers real solutions. We think of ourselves as the away game experts for companies with expatriates in Africa. Besides having access to the best medical networks in each African country in which we operate, we also have processes that have been honed over many years of operating in Africa, as well as world-class technology and systems. This means we’re able to provide the highest standard of care wherever expatriates find themselves in Africa. Our plans also cater for local professionals in a cost effective and seamless manner. This equalisation of benefits can help employers limit potential resentment caused by the so-called “parachuting in” of expatriates to address perceived skills shortages in African environments.”

Balancing efficiency and experience

Because Hollard Cigna Health products cater for the treatment of insureds in-country wherever possible, there are likely to be cost and administrative advantages over plans which evacuate members to countries such as South Africa in any emergency. Explains Van Der Kooij, “There are certain countries which have better facilities for the treatment of particular conditions and we don’t hesitate to evacuate patients to the best possible centre for treatment where this becomes necessary. However, the difference between our plans and those of most other international health insurers operating on the continent, is that we look to evacuate patients to the nearest possible expert treatment centre, rather than merely defaulting to South Africa; a process which can cost valuable time and unnecessary expense”.

Google-inspired initiative CSquared, which has its headquarters in Kenya and representation across three African countries, is one of the increasing number of multinationals turning to Hollard Cigna Health for its health insurance. “The Hollard Cigna Health product provides us with access to the best local medical care and appropriate evacuation benefits,” says Phillipe Sakwa, Human Resources Manager for CSquared. ”It really addresses our relatively complex needs in the most cost-effective manner.”

Van Der Kooij concludes, “Hollard Cigna Health plans provide brokers playing an away game in Africa with the best possible chance of winning when it comes to solving the health insurance challenge of their multinational clients.”