Businesses adapting to global rise in demand for health cover

27 November 2017 . International

With many global organisations expecting to grow their global workforce in the coming years, new research from international health insurer Bupa Global reveals that businesses are adapting their approach to international health and wellbeing employee benefits.

  • Over half (52%) of HR Directors report rising demand from employees overseas for IPMI over the past five years
  • A third (32%) of employers expect their global workforce to increase over the next five years
  • A third (32%) of HR directors with a global workforce have improved employee health and wellbeing benefits over the last decade

Bupa Global carried out two extensive pieces of research with 1501 HR Directors and 1,851 globally mobile employees to understand what businesses are experiencing when it comes to the changing requirements and demand for international health and wellbeing benefits.

The research shows that a third of HR directors (32%) expect their global workforce to increase over the coming five years, with employees most likely to travel to Europe (80%) and North America (53%), followed by Asia (44%), and the Middle East (35%).

Correspondingly, there has been increased demand in the quality and quantity of health and wellbeing benefits by those who work regularly overseas. Half (52%) of HR directors report a rising demand from these employees for international private medical insurance over the past five years. A third (32%) of HR directors have also had to improve the quality of health and wellbeing benefits offered to globally mobile staff over the last decade.

International private medical insurance and flexible working hours are among employees’ most desired benefits, with a quarter (25%) of staff expecting more from their employer in these areas than they did five years ago. 

Sheldon Kenton, Managing Director of Bupa Global, commented: “The fact that more and more employees are becoming globally mobile means that international private medical insurance is something of a non-negotiable for businesses. Companies are waking up to the fact that health and wellbeing benefits can be a real differentiator when it comes to recruitment and retention. And they can meet this demand by partnering with an insurer which has a network of world class facilities, giving them access to the right care at the right time and place.”

The research also shows that it is even more crucial that adequate health cover is in place as people progress in their career, with mental health becoming an increasing workplace concern as people climb the career ladder. When asked what health and wellbeing issues employees are likely to face as they become more senior within an organisation, HR directors listed increased stress (39%), depression (36%) and anxiety (33%) as the biggest concerns.

Despite the increasing demands and expectations, the research also highlights that there is still confusion amongst employers on the benefits that IPMI can bring. Of those who don’t provide any IPMI at all to their employees, almost half (44%) say they weren’t familiar enough with the options and requirements.

The main reasons for employers providing health cover to staff is recruitment and retention, followed by actively wanting to look after employee health and wellbeing. 79% of HR directors said providing private medical insurance is an important differentiator versus their competitors.

Notes to editor

1 All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Bupa Global and YouGov. Total sample size was 150 leading HR professionals across large UK-based multinational businesses and over 1,800 employees that regularly work abroad. Fieldwork was undertaken in January-February 2017. The survey of employees was carried out online and HR directors were interviewed by telephone.

For further information please contact:

Sirina Parr, Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Bupa  

About Bupa Global

Bupa Global is the international health insurance arm of Bupa. We provide customers around the world with products and services for globally minded and mobile people who want the most premium coverage and access to the healthcare they need anytime, anywhere in the world, whether at home or when studying, living, travelling or working abroad.

Bupa Global has offices around the world including London and Brighton (UK), Miami (USA), Copenhagen (Denmark), Dubai (UAE, in partnership with OIC), and Hong Kong (China) as well as regional offices in Mainland China, Singapore, Egypt, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Guatemala and Ecuador. Bupa Global recently acquired Care Plus, the market leading health insurer in Brazil which serves more than 400 companies with about 100,000 members.

About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives and making a better world.

We are an international healthcare company serving over 31 million customers worldwide. With no shareholders, we reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We directly employ around 85,000 people, principally in the UK, Australia, Spain, Chile, Poland, New Zealand, Hong Kong SAR, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, the US, Middle East and Ireland. We also have associate businesses in Saudi Arabia and India.

For more information, visit