AXA has been going through uniting its health and international health brands throughout the world as a part of the company’s marketing evolution. They have also been more involved in the part that IPMI plays in a global workforce environment.
AXA Global Healthcare’s Sales and Marketing Director, Kevin Melton walks us through the company’s evolving business strategy as well as the key findings of their ‘World of Work Report’ and what the IPMI community can learn from these findings.
Mr Melton has worked in PMI for over 31 years and has experience working for some of the biggest names in international health insurance, such as Cigna and Allianz Worldwide Care.
Learn more in his full interview below.
A: I’ve worked for over 20 years in medical insurance, operating in sales roles at Standard Life, Allianz Worldwide Care and Vanbreda (now Cigna), before I joined AXA in 2010 as Sales and Marketing Director. Today, I lead AXA’s distribution and marketing strategy for international health insurance, specifically targeting affluent locals and the expatriate customer segment.
Leading a team that’s spread across the UK, Europe, UAE and Asia gives me a fantastic insight into the culture, lifestyle and of course, health regulations around the world, and helps inform our ongoing proposition development, broker engagement and customer retention.
A: In recent years, global healthcare has become an increasingly important part of AXA’s health strategy. Until now, we’ve used three different entities to operate in the international market, but we’re taking steps to bring these together into one AXA brand. AXA PPP International has been the brand predominantly used for expatriate business in Europe, AXA Global Protect for locally admitted expatriate solutions in the Gulf and Asia, and AXA Healthcare Management has been our B2B brand, used primarily for reinsurance partnerships in countries where the target market is affluent locals.
By pooling all of our international expertise into one core business, and one AXA brand, we’ll be in a much stronger position to face the complexities of the market and meet the unique requirements of people who need a global health solution. We’ll also have direct access to the 35 markets where AXA has health businesses and licences.
Ultimately, our ambition with this restructure is to replicate the success we’ve had distributing AXA PPP healthcare underwritten international health plans from the UK with many more AXA entities around the world. We’re already well on our way, with rapid growth via our partnerships with AXA Insurance Gulf and AXA General Insurance Hong Kong, and there are plenty of other AXA domestic healthcare businesses that recognise the customer demand for international health insurance and are working with us to enhance their existing product range by introducing IPMI.
A: We carried out the World of Work Report to assess the attitudes of business towards having a globally mobile workforce and found that the majority are very much in favour. Almost all (98%) of the big businesses that we spoke to said a globally mobile workforce is important, while a third (35%) went as far as saying it was critical for their success.
Staff, on the other hand, largely don’t want to live permanently in another country and demand more flexibility in order to accept an international role. Three-quarters (75%) of employers say that instead of relocating, staff who accept jobs abroad would prefer to commute internationally and continue living at home. We did find, however, that employees feel there are benefits to accepting jobs overseas. The majority (51%) of staff working on international assignments said that they took global placements to gain higher and pay and benefits, while nearly half (47%) said that they took roles to gain accelerated career development and improve their skills.
A: We’re seeing many companies move away from long term assignments of three to five years in favour of shorter periods that are often less than a year long. Commuter assignments, whereby employees spend time travelling between locations, are also becoming increasingly popular. The cross-border nature of our plans makes them the ideal solution for expats on assignments such as these as, wherever our customers go, they can receive a consistent level of care and service.
We strive to make sure that excellent customer service is at the heart of everything we do. Wherever they are in the world, whether it’s day or night, we need to ensure that our members are able to contact us and receive a consistent service. We have contact centres in the UK and Chicago to make this possible, and we’re always improving our online capabilities to make it as easy as possible for members to contact us.
That said, we want to do more than just pay claims and aspire for our members to see us as a partner. That might mean taking away the hassle of booking treatment, finding the most appropriate hospital, getting them a second opinion or putting them in touch with an expert to answer their questions. The aim of our business is ultimately to empower our customers to live better lives overseas.
We’re also constantly taking on customer feedback to help review our proposition. We combine the opinions of our customers with market trends and local expertise from our teams in the UK, Chicago, Hong Kong, the Gulf or even our in-market partners to develop products that are fit for today’s market.
With this insight, our expertise and global reach mean we can also negotiate the best rates for our members and develop networks in areas that are of high importance. We’re also able to invest in new technology, such as our teleconsultation facility, to ensure that our offerings are the best that they can possibly be.
Finally, we continuously work with partners around the world to make sure our plans meet the necessary local regulations and to ensure we can offer the best possible solutions for our members, no matter where they are based.
A: Over the last five years, we’ve seen more and more key expat destinations, such as Dubai, Russia and the USA, introducing new regulations to tackle the pressure of healthcare funding and protect their local healthcare resources.
One reason behind this increased pressure is the rising cost of healthcare delivery, with the development of new treatments, drugs and technologies pushing up the cost of care. Furthermore, the advancement in our medical capabilities has meant that people are living longer and many countries are struggling to look after a growing, ageing population.
We’re also seeing, particularly in the UK, a steep rise in the number of people suffering from chronic conditions, the management of which is set to cost £5bn per year by 2018. Combined with our ageing population, this will drastically change the kind of care that people will need.
It’s also widely known that many of us are living distinctly unhealthy lifestyles. Many countries are facing real problems with their population getting too little exercise, indulging too much in alcohol and high sugar foods and living extremely stressful lives, all of which significantly affect our general health.
In many countries such as the UK, France, Japan and Germany there is a growing effort to help people adopt healthier behaviours with digital technology. Apps, connected devices and monitors, and remote coaching and assessment facilities are proving effective ways of encouraging people to make healthier choices. The number of health apps, in particular, has doubled in the last two and a half years to over 100,000, which is hugely encouraging.