Health Insurance in Vietnam and S.E. Asia

On today’s Monday Morning Coffee, Granger Whitelaw discusses Health Insurance In Vietnam & S.E. Asia. What should you look at when considering a private or group Insurance plan for yourself or your company? Grab your coffee – we hope you enjoy.

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Below is a transcript of the episode, edited for readability.

Listen to the full episode at link here:

Granger Whitelaw: Good morning. This is Granger Whitelaw with Lotus talks. March 9th, 2020. Whoo man! Do I need coffee this morning! I hope you guys are doing well out there today. It has been a very interesting weekend in the news. As you all know. The markets on Friday afternoon in the US just absolutely tanked. There’s been pressure on the indices all weekend, everywhere. The only thing anyone can talk about is the Corona virus and even here in Vietnam we’ve had negative news with five local people in Hanoi contracting over the weekend and I believe nine foreigners, that were on that flight from London and have contracted as well and been quarantined. I’m not here to be a news reporter, but it’s definitely something that we need to think about as we all go about our days here and trying to operate our companies and our businesses, which is what we talk about here on the Lotus Talks. So with that in mind, being Monday and Monday is when we talk about things to think about over the week that we can do to improve our companies. I want to talk about health insurance. It’s a timely conversation obviously with the Corona virus and certainly is an integral part of benefits for a lot of companies here in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Some employers offer private insurance, but all employers certainly in Vietnam offer social insurance because the government supports social insurance and we pay that every month into our employee, funds along with our PIT and CIT.  

Granger Whitelaw: So, if you are an ex-patriot looking for insurance and you don’t come under the social insurance, what are some things you should think about? What are the things you should think about for your expatriate employees, executives, part time workers, etc, finding the right insurance plan is a very important decision. You definitely need to make sure it covers all the possibilities. There are local insurance companies that will cover you locally here in Vietnam that are much less expensive than, having an insurance policy that will cover you throughout Southeast Asia. And then there are insurance policies will cover you internationally.  

Granger Whitelaw: Some of the major things you want to think about when you’re looking at insurance are, one, the hospital groups that are in the insurance policy, network that you’re signing up with. So if you’re looking at Liberty insurance for instance here in Vietnam, I think pretty much all the hospitals here in Vietnam take their insurance. And I think for most of the major insurance companies they do. But, they may not. So definitely want to check that. But as you look at the insurance you want to check on, inpatient versus outpatient. This is a critical issue. Do you want outpatient coverage? So outpatient coverage being when you go to, get your medical checkups, get vaccinations, specialist and practitioner costs, physiotherapy, home care, x-rays, those kinds of things, and prescribed medicines come under outpatient coverage. But a lot of us, including myself, for me, I don’t think it’s really worth it.  

Granger Whitelaw: You can go to the hospitals here, at Victoria or Vinmec or, wherever it is you’d like to go. And you can generally get, a checkup for, you know, $40 bucks, $50 bucks. That’s really kind of the same as a copay. So what’s the point right? But it depends on if you have children too, if you have three or four kids and you have a family policy, maybe you want that outpatient coverage because kids are get prone to a sickness more easily and they’re in the doctors more often. So that $50 at $40 at $30 each time you go certainly can add up. Pre-existing conditions; this is a major issue for me, I’ve had heart surgery and I have a preexisting condition, so I want to make sure that my insurance covers that. Most do not, most do not cover preexisting conditions.  

Granger Whitelaw: So, if they do, it’s generally very expensive and they’ll add extra charges to your plan. More cases than not though, what they’ll do is they’ll add a couple of years to your policy. So, for mine, after I had my surgery, I had a two year window, and as long as I didn’t have any issues, during that time, then my insurance covers it. So this is definitely something that you want to look at. If you have any chronic conditions, that can be very confusing and costly. Diabetes, arthritis, asthma, things like that, require specific plans. So really make sure you look at that. There can be limitations depending on, if you have ailments that act up at different times. So that’s short time was kind of an acute phase. And there can be a lifetime limits where the insurance company will agree to cover ongoing elements for a period of time, but not cover for extended times.  

Granger Whitelaw: So, these are definitely things that you want to look at. dental coverage certainly is something that you want to look at. Maternity benefits is key. What about maternity benefits for men, right? I’ve heard this is a conversation. Obviously the women need maternity benefits and they need the prenatal and the postnatal labor and delivery expenses. These are very important things and collectively these can become very expensive. although I had a friend of mine who recently had a baby, he and his wife. and I think the whole process was about $2,500 from prenatal all the way through, the C-section, which to me is a very good price, for, prenatal through, all of your checkups and, and delivery in surgery and the hospital stay and the US it would be, you know, five times that easy. And that’s really what I see the difference here and US coverage being an American is it’s about five X, savings here.   Granger Whitelaw: You can really get great dental coverage here if you really want it, but you don’t need it because the dentists here are so affordable and they’re so good at what they do. Anyway, as you’re looking at these policies, definitely read the benefit limits. read about emergency evacuation. Certainly in the time of coronavirus you’d want to look at things that are covered by forest mature, which are acts of God or if, if there are any, war terrorism risks, you wanted to see if they’ll evacuate you, your ambulatory costs for helicopter, plane or boat. You know, it sounds like a lot, but you can go through this pretty quickly. just read your policies. One really smart thing to do, and I will advise to anybody listening to this who’s looking at insurance. If you’re living here, there’s good insurance here, but I would suggest getting a policy that covers you in Southeast Asia or anywhere outside of the US for instance, because that’s the most expensive healthcare in the world and Singapore hospitals and Bangkok and Hong Kong.  

Granger Whitelaw: And I mean if you need to get, a surgery or elective, go there, highly recommend that and just make sure your insurance covers it those countries and you will be way ahead of the game. And if you need to fly back to the States or somewhere else, get a travel policy that travel policies add on in policy. And covers you while you’re in the States or wherever you are for your trip. It’s not covered under the, your local or Asian insurance. It’s not expensive. It’s a couple hundred bucks for the year. And it also covers claims for lost luggage and other kinds of things. I know I lost a bag last year. It was a nightmare and it’s even go through that process, but, at least they’ll cover something. Right, this is all good stuff for you to have for your employees that you’re bringing in from overseas, your expats. I’m sure a lot of you have this, but if you don’t look out for a local insurance company, you can look locally at Biovet or Pacific Life or Liberty. There’s a bunch of different insurance companies around here and groups that will certainly, go through the process with you and help you and advise you on setting up, a policy for your company or for the key executives that you need.  

Granger Whitelaw: I’ll talk to you Friday. We’ll, look at a company that, I think is really good at this, certainly as we do on our Friday notes, and profiling a business that, is doing this and doing a good job of it and also gives back to the community. Until then, please stay safe. Everybody, you don’t need extra toilet paper. I think you’ll be okay. Vietnam’s doing a great job. but if you want some extra stock, go get it. Wash your hands and we’ll talk to you soon. Until then, this is Granger Whitelaw for Lotus Talks. Have a great day.  

The Lotus Talks is produced by The Vietnam Group and Hosted by Granger Whitelaw.
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