Expat Family Wellness Survey 2020: The Impact of COVID-19

Contributed by Aetna International, 07 January, 2021

Half of expats are rethinking living abroad and the quality of health care overseas

The data has been revealed in the 'Expat Family Wellness Survey 2020: The Impact of COVID-19', published by international health benefits provider, Aetna International. The report, which surveyed 1,000 expat families in the UK, U.S., Singapore and UAE, explores the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on expat family health and well-being. It investigates how expats managed both their own and their children's health and well-being during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

The survey found that more than half of expats (59.9%) are rethinking whether they want to continue living abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 43.9% say the reason for this is to have access to better health care. Adding to this:

Expats with younger children are more concerned about living abroad, suggesting that families with small children may want/need more support:

Regional differences

In terms of region, expats in the U.S. are the most likely to rethink their life abroad in order to access better health care. In fact:

Health care a deciding factor for living abroad

77.2% of expats who agreed with the statement "the quality of health care is better in my country of residence than it is in my home country", said that health care was originally a deciding factor in the choice to live abroad.

Interestingly, older expats are less likely to report that health care was a deciding factor when originally moving abroad:

Fears around access to health care

The survey also reveals that one third of expats (39.8%) have fears around accessing health services due to COVID-19 pandemic:

Regionally, expats in the U.S. are the most fearful about accessing health services due to COVID-19 pandemic (50%) – much higher than the global average (39.8%). Expats in Singapore are the most fearful about late diagnosis (24%) and late treatment (26%).

Dr Hemal Desai, Global Medical Director, Aetna International says:

"There's no doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted health care systems around the world, but they are returning to normal in many parts of the world. It seems that factors such as travel restrictions, the quality of local health care and the effect of the pandemic on access to health services have all caused expats to question their decision to live and work abroad. Access to high quality health care is an important consideration for expats and this survey shows the uncertainty the pandemic has created in this regard and the impact this is having on the decision for expats living overseas.

"These findings are important for employers to note so that successful international assignments can be achieved in the future. The pandemic has highlighted the need for employers to highlight the health care benefits and additional health care options available to those considering international assignments. At a minimum, these should include access to digital health services, employee assistance programs, virtual primary care and 24/7 assistance in case of medical emergencies.

"At Aetna, we work tirelessly to provide people with access to quality care no matter where they are in the world – be it in their local community or via digital platforms providing access at home or in the office in a way that suits best."

Tags: Expats | Singapore | services | health care |



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