The health insurance market is struggling to keep up with demand, but a new trend has emerged, says Axa Global Healthcare’s Laurent Pochat-Cottilloux

Increased complexity and overwhelming demands of patients is putting a strain on healthcare, and it is something insurance companies need to prepare for, says Laurent Pochat-Cottilloux, global head of health reinsurance partnerships at Axa Global Healthcare.

Speaking at the DWIC Conference in Dubai, Pochat-Cottilloux says “more drugs are being tested than ever before, and healthcare is more complex than ever”.

Axa is seeing the emergence of medical tourism, he says, as people cross borders specifically looking for healthcare savings or other advantages in other countries.

“This is going to effect how we pick up and promote health insurance products,” he says.

He also notes the culture of the patients is changing. “People are getting more impatient,” he says. “Their expectations of what healthcare can do is changing and the burden is growing.

“As a result, public and private healthcare systems are struggling.”

Pochat-Cottilloux says “the future is bright” for cross-border health insurance, with an increase in journeys made each year.

He estimates that around $150bn is spent annually on medical travel, and this is increasing by around 15% each year.

He says around 15 million patients cross a border each year to find appropriate medical care.

Another form of cross-border health cover is also emerging. Insurance for international students is a fast-growing market that shows a lot of promise to healthcare insurers, Pochat-Cottilloux says.

“International students and their parents, who may have relatively high incomes, are looking at universities around the world, not just within their region. And as a result, are more likely to take out health insurance.

“They want the best for their child, and they expect a certain level of cover and care when their child is abroad.”

By buying cover before Middle Eastern students depart the region, premium can be collected in this part of the word, he notes.

“A lot of students want to go to America for university study, and they need cover. The key is to secure that cover before they go, so they don’t need to seek it when they get there, and we can undercut our friends in the US.”