Research published today has revealed that a quarter of expats took out new health insurance plans to cover family members amid the covid-19 pandemic, with 35.5% of expats adding family members to their current insurance plan.

The data has been revealed in the ‘Expat Family Wellness Survey 2020: The Impact of Covid-19', published by international health benefits provider, Aetna International. The report, which surveyed 1,000 expat families in the UK, US, Singapore and UAE, explores the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on expat family health and well-being. It investigates how expats managed both their own and their children's health and well-being during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. 

The survey found that in response to covid-19, a quarter of expats (24.5%) took out a new insurance plan to provide cover for their family members. Adding to this:

  • 35.5% of expats added family members to their current insurance plan 
  • 15.9% didn't buy extra cover for their family members, but did consider it
  • 7.3% didn't buy extra cover for their family members but would consider it for the future
  • Only 16.8% did not buy extra cover for their family members

Overall, 60% of respondents either added family members to an existing insurance plan or took out new cover so their immediate relatives could be added. Globally, 33% of expats already had health insurance to cover themselves and their family members. 

Regional differences
Expats in Singapore and the UAE were most likely to already have health insurance for themselves and their family members, at 45.2% and 37.2%. This is higher than the global average of 33%. 

Only 21.6% and 28% of expats in the UK and U.S. already had health insurance for themselves and their family members. However:

  • 45.9% of expats in the U.S. who said that they already had health insurance, added their family to their current health care plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 33% of expats in the UK who said that they had health insurance bought a new plan so that family members would be covered

These findings suggest an increased awareness of health and health care and the value of health insurance during the covid-19 pandemic, which is strengthened by the fact 82.6% of expats developed healthier habits during covid-19 crisis.

Of the 82.6% of expats that developed healthier habits during covid-19 crisis, 69.5% did so because the pandemic made them aware of their own health. Adding to this:

  • 27.5% of expats said that they have been meaning to improve their health for a while
  • 3% of expats developed healthier eating habits because they are an at-risk group 

The UAE and Singapore have the highest percentage of participants that have developed healthier eating habits (89-90%), since the onset of the pandemic, closely followed by the U.S. with 84%. The UK has the lowest number of participants who have developed a healthier eating routine due to covid-19 at 67%. 

Hemal Desai, global medical director at Aetna International said: "The health crisis has clearly made people more aware of their own health. It's heartening to see that people have been developing healthy habits to keep themselves well. Private medical insurance has become increasingly important for expats as a means of protecting one of their most valuable assets - their health and the health of their families."

"Organisations like ours are more than just an insurance provider. At Aetna, we are a health and wellness partner helping people access health care solutions for physical and mental health in a way that suits them, both online and in their local community. As the impact of covid-19 continues it is more important than ever that people protect their own health and that of their family."

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