Digital solutions: Re-writing the rule-book for mobile employee benefits

By Pasquale Gorrasi, Director - International Lines, Generali Employee Benefits

The drop in share prices of companies across the healthcare industry – from insurers to drug makers - following the announcement of the link-up between, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan said it all. Healthcare disruption from external players is in sight, in spite of claims to the contrary by JP Morgan in an attempt to pacify some of its healthcare company clients. What’s more, it will bring distinct advantages to global companies and their mobile employees.

GEB mobile employees

Fed up with spiraling healthcare costs and no solution in sight, the trio of companies recently announced the formation of a not-for-profit healthcare company, focused on technological solutions to help reduce healthcare costs for their combined base of over a million employees (both in the US and overseas), whilst also promising simplified and transparent healthcare.

Digital technology is paving the way for new entrants. It’s already set to have a profound knock-on effect on benefits for mobile employees, helping to re-design the look and feel of this most essential of benefits for the rapidly growing number of employees on the move.

How will this be achieved? By tackling the biggest challenge currently facing this sector: namely, the juxtaposing requirements to cut complexity and reduce costs whilst also ensuring compliance in multiple jurisdictions.

This is no mean feat. But it can be achieved via a fully digital and efficient solution. This is based on the following assumptions about mobile employees:

  • They’re travelling and working across borders and local compliance is essential. For this reason, the non-admitted model no longer represents the catch-all solution. Countries vary in the availability of benefits and sophistication of their solutions. So, in order to meet corporate needs – namely global persistency, central administration, exhaustive benefits – providers must respond with a fully articulated solution that takes into account all of these aspects. In short, one size fits all just won’t cut it anymore.
  • They need exhaustive benefits. Mobile employees are usually away from their home country, and home social security system, with little or no knowledge or membership of their host country systems.
  • They are comfortable and reliant on digital technology. They arguably use their Smartphones more than others when they need a medical service, travel plan, concierge service or funeral service.
  • They are more expensive. Mobile employees need more in terms of benefits because they don’t have the luxury of their usual home country fallback options – healthcare in particular. They are therefore associated with a higher spending capacity.

Based on these assumptions, it’s my opinion that only a fully-fledged central digital platform can meet today’s mobile benefit needs. Such a solution would also ensure that many other added-value benefits could be offered: whether that be via cross-selling or up-selling and on a compulsory or voluntary basis.

The complexities in this market require a new solution, one that’s built from the bottom up, not the top-down: the latter representing an approach that can often feel like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

In short, the industry is ready and willing for change and disruption. We foresee great opportunities ahead.