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Employees Still Expect Employers to Prioritise Physical Health Over Mental Well-Being

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When asked to consider the impact of the pandemic59% of expats believe that their employer healthcare packages should prioritise physical over mental well-being.  

The new research of expats in multiple markets around the world also found those with dependent children (under 16) were the ones who largely believed that their employers should focus on physical well-being with their healthcare packages and benefits; 65% of those with dependents thought this, compared to 55% of those without.  

This relates to 87% of those surveyed who said that when considering a job opportunity abroad that family healthcare-related employment benefits to be important, and 44% expect their employer to provide full healthcare cover for expats and their families for a role abroad.  

Dr Hemal Desai, global medical director at Aetna International says: ‘In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, people understandably want to ensure their families are looked after and are looking to their employers for support.’

‘We’re yet to understand the mid to long term implications of the pandemic on people’s physical, and mental health with the raised anxiety levels globally, both directly and indirectly. No doubt the reported potential delays to treatment owed to hospital and healthcare system backlogs will only add to people’s stress.’

Worryingly, almost 30% highlighted access to quality health care to already be one of the top three biggest challenges of living as an expat when asked as part of this research. 

‘At least we have seen a change in attitudes and increased conversation around employee well-being given the challenges many have and are yet to face,’ adds Dr Desai. 

Prioritising physical well-being may have come out top, but when taking into consideration Aetna International’s 2016 ‘Pioneering Change’ survey of globally mobile individuals which found that only 6% of expats were concerned with issues relating to mental health then, we see a clear shift in attitudes with 41% of 2021 respondents who felt mental well-being should be prioritised by their employer health care benefits. 

Dr Desai suggests: ‘We need to keep evolving the conversation and help employers and employees alike consider the relationship between physical and mental well-being. As one can affect the other, and we consider both to be equally important.’

‘With the spotlight on health and well-being, international employers should be open to adapting to meet the changing needs of employees as the world aims to ‘open up’. Given the different needs of expats, it is vital that we provide clear navigation to the right health care benefits. That is why we continue to evolve our digital support to make it simple, efficient, and intuitive for our members.’

Aetna International offers expats comprehensive insurance policies that can guarantee access to quality health care providers across destinations worldwide.  

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