Large group clients are often prized for their ability to boost commission incomes and add credibility. But what does this type of client look for in a health care solution? Nic Brown, Head of Global Distribution at Aetna International, explains.
There's no mistaking the fact that the world's largest corporations are of almost Goliath-like financial proportions. Wal-Mart employs more than two million people and has revenues exceeding the GDPs of more than 150 countries. According to www.globaltrends.com, Shell's revenue makes it larger than the combined GDPs of Pakistan and Bangladesh. AXA's revenue is bigger than Nigeria's.
Besides giant, household-name companies, there are plenty of more modest organizations that generate huge revenues and employ thousands of staff. Increasingly, corporations of all sizes are turning global. International boundaries have been all but removed with advances in communications and air travel. Companies are looking beyond their domestic borders for growth.
Larger international employers are prized accounts, significantly boosting revenues and enhancing global capability reputations. And, frequently, they are demanding, with special needs that must be met to maintain satisfaction and secure renewals.
But what are some of the must-have requirements of larger groups, beyond the bread-and-butter factors of cost and cover? Issues such as compliance, extended service infrastructures and local dedicated account teams are all key to this type of client.
The account team at Aetna logs thousands of air miles a year visiting brokers and large clients around the world. Each trip is invaluable - not only to cement relationships but also to listen and understand what IPMI solutions brokers and their clients are demanding. Our experience reflects three consistent themes:
- an emphasis on compliance
- the need for a global infrastructure to cope with the medical needs of a wide-spread, international, work-force
- the insistence on a personal level of service
I firmly believe that any broker targeting this category of business must present a value proposition that includes a compelling case for each requirement.
Elevate compliance concerns
Compliance is of paramount importance to larger organisations. In most instances, in-house staff will be tasked with ensuring all aspects of their organisation operate in a compliant manner.
They may want to know, for example, which countries require expat workers to have medical insurance? Whether brokers are allowed to place business locally? If your carrier of choice has compliant licensing capabilities in countries where their staff will be located? Are specific products required for certain groups of individuals?
These are just a few of the questions you might be asked, so it helps to work with insurers with the knowledge base to help. Look for carriers that have the internal teams in place to ensure all aspects of their business operate within the specific laws and regulations of different countries where your clients have staff members.
Offer an infrastructure for a global workforce
It goes without saying that the welfare of their international workforce will be of enormous importance to employers. Being able to demonstrate that the program you are proposing will deliver the best possible portfolio of cover could be the key influencer in the purchasing decision.
But don't just think about expected standards, such as offices in the key expat locations. It's the whole package of support that's important. Our international offices are backed up by a global network of hospitals and clinics aligned to the geographical profile of our members.
And additional services ensure several layers of support. Aetna's medical advice and assistance centre, for example, offers 24/7 advice that enables members to make the most of their coverage. Our staff can help with a wide range of issues, such as finding the right specialist, pre-trip medical planning and arranging care in remote locations.
Clinical care management is another integral part of our offering. Expats with complex medical needs can be assigned a case manager to provide a more personal level of attention. A client contracting a new illness such as diabetes, for example, might welcome professional advice and support to help them come to terms with what's happening - especially if they are in a remote location. Or when a major course of treatment is required, one of our case managers can facilitate collaboration between the patient and medical provider to promote the best possible outcome for all.
Local account teams
Large employers are likely to demand fully staffed and functioning offices in their regions, including dedicated account managers with specific knowledge of their business, to look after their divisional operations around the world. At Aetna, a superior service infrastructure is a priority. Our major account teams frequently visit plan sponsors with brokers to add weight and support to the overall proposition. And it makes a difference. Brokers report excellent feedback from clients and stronger relationships as a result.
Large group business can be prized accounts but they are also difficult to win. Brokers in this market know how much time and effort it takes to put bids together. But being able to include a number of key service initiatives that have particular resonance to this group can help to put you in the driver's seat.