[Comparing International Medical Insurance] Choices for Families with Kids

Estimated reading time 10 minutes

10Life Team

14 Jun 2022
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10Life Team

14 Jun 2022

Estimated reading time 10 minutes

International medical insurance provides regional or worldwide premium medical coverage for the insured. Traditionally it has been the choice for those who travel frequently for work or leisure. With the increase in health awareness in recent years, some parents or expectant parents have also turned their attention to international medical insurance. So how to choose a plan for a family with kids?

10Life will analyse in detail the pros and cons of five flagship international medical insurance products from the major insurers, including AIA's CEO Medical Plan 5 (“AIA CEO 5”), AXA's Global Elite II Health Plan - Prestige (“AXA Global Elite II Prestige”), Bupa Global’s International Health and Hospital Plan (“Bupa Global IHHP”), Cigna’s HealthFirst Elite Medical Plan (“Cigna Elite”) and HSBC’s HSBC VHIS Flexi Plan - Diamond level (“HSBC VHIS Flexi Diamond”). For ease of comparison, we assume that the policyholder chooses a plan with $0 deductible, and no optional benefits.

Only two products offer maternity caesarean section coverage

Let’s begin with pregnancy. A newborn brings infinite joy to the family, but not every medical insurance plan in the market provides maternity cover. In particular, non-medically necessary caesarean section is often excluded. Among the five products, only AXA Global Elite II Prestige and Bupa Global IHHP provide caesarean section coverage, including non-medically necessary caesarean section. The waiting period for both products is 12 months (Note 1).

Having a baby is a wonderful experience, but the process is by no means easy. Risks of pregnancy complications, such as hypertension and gestational diabetes, can endanger the health of the mother and/or the baby. All five products except HSBC VHIS Flexi Diamond provide coverage on pregnancy complications.

A unique product feature to mention is that for Bupa Global IHHP, if an adult has been insured under the plan for at least 12 months, his or her newborn infant can be covered at no extra cost. The coverage for the newborn includes complications during delivery and pre-existing conditions without underwriting (Note 2).

Comparing prices for a family with children

Many parents worry about the health of their babies both during pregnancy and after birth, and want to get medical insurance to protect their loved ones. However, medical insurance costs for children are not necessarily low. Are there any ways for parents to reduce their financial burden?

Comparing the policy terms and premium of the 5 products, it is noted that Bupa Global IHHP allows each insured adult to include up to two children under the age of 10 for no extra cost (subject to underwriting) after the policy has been in force for at least 12 months, allowing the same coverage for both the adult and the children. Using an example for an age 35 mother and her two children (age 4 and age 6), Bupa Global IHHP and HSBC VHIS Flexi Diamond have the relatively low annual premium amongst the five products at HK$94,555 and HK$91,995 respectively, much lower than AXA Global Elite II Prestige (HK$303,000). However, it is worth noting that AXA Global Elite II Prestige covers pre-existing conditions and manifested congenital conditions, a feature that is rare in the market (Note 3).

Table 1: Compare products’ coverage and premiums (HKD)

Insurer/ Product
Maternity Coverage
Pregnancy Complications Coverage
Annual Premium for insuring 35-year-old mother, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son 1
Insurer/ Product
Maternity Coverage
X
Pregnancy Complications Coverage
Annual Premium for insuring 35-year-old mother, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son 1
$125,280
Maternity Coverage
2
Pregnancy Complications Coverage
Annual Premium for insuring 35-year-old mother, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son 1
$303,032
Maternity Coverage
3
Pregnancy Complications Coverage
Annual Premium for insuring 35-year-old mother, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son 1
$94,5554
Maternity Coverage
X
Pregnancy Complications Coverage
Annual Premium for insuring 35-year-old mother, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son 1
$127,000
Maternity Coverage
X
Pregnancy Complications Coverage
X
Annual Premium for insuring 35-year-old mother, 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son 1
$91,995
Remarks:
1. Deductible $0.
2. AXA Global Elite II Prestige - waiting period of 12 months; coverage up to $110,000.
3. Bupa Global IHHP - waiting period of 12 months; covers up to $103,000 in case of medically necessary Caesarean section.
4. Bupa Global IHHP - allows each insured adult to add up to two children under the age of 10 for free (subject to underwriting) after the policy has been in force for at least 12 months.

Annual benefit limit can differ by up to 1.5 times

International medical insurance provides a wide range of protection, usually with full coverage on various medical expense items. However, full coverage is by no means invincible as it is still subjected to "medically necessary" and "reasonable and customary" clauses, as well as annual and lifetime benefit limits.

There are notable differences in the annual benefit limit of the five products, with the highest at HK$50,000,000 (Cigna Elite) and the lowest at HK$20,000,000 (AIA CEO 5), a difference of 1.5 times. As for the lifetime limit, apart from the HK$50,000,000 cap set by AIA CEO 5, all other products have no lifetime limits.

Pay attention to the premium increase with age

Due to the high coverage level of international medical insurance, it can be more expensive than general medical insurance. As the premium rates increase with age and medical inflation, and the policy is renewed annually, many people may worry that the premium would become unaffordable in the long run.

Table 2 shows the average annual premium for a male adult during age 60-80 (assuming they joined the plan before age 60). Bupa Global IHHP has the lowest average premium at HK$145,791, mainly driven by its unique feature of level premium after age 60 (for policies issued before age 60). However, like all other products the premium rates may be adjusted due to medical inflation and other factors. Except for Bupa Global IHHP, the premium rates of other products increase with age annually during this age 60-80 period.

Table 2:Comparison of benefit limit and average annual premium for age 60-80 (HKD)

Insurer/ Product
Annual Benefit Limit
Lifetime Benefit Limit
Average Annual Premium age 60-80 (1 adult)1
Insurer/ Product
Annual Benefit Limit
20,000,000
Lifetime Benefit Limit
50,000,000
Average Annual Premium age 60-80 (1 adult)1
$263,810
Annual Benefit Limit
30,000,000
Lifetime Benefit Limit
No Limit
Average Annual Premium age 60-80 (1 adult)1
$596,084
Annual Benefit Limit
35,200,000
Lifetime Benefit Limit
No Limit
Average Annual Premium age 60-80 (1 adult)1
$145,791
Annual Benefit Limit
50,000,000
Lifetime Benefit Limit
No Limit
Average Annual Premium age 60-80 (1 adult)1
$184,343
Annual Benefit Limit
40,000,000
Lifetime Benefit Limit
No Limit
Average Annual Premium age 60-80 (1 adult)1
$190,143
Remark 1: Assuming the insured is a male non-smoker who joined the plan before age 60; deductible $0; current premium rates not reflecting any future medical inflation.
The insured of international medical insurance can freely select medical service providers around the globe. However, one must pay attention to the change of residency clauses of the policy. If the insured changes residency status, the insurance company should be notified. Some policy provisions stipulate that if the residency of the insured person changes (for example, moving to the United States and staying for 185 days or more within 365 days), the coverage may be reduced or terminated.

With the exception of HSBC VHIS Diamond, all products clearly state the change of residency terms in their policy provisions. It is noted that unlike the other products, Bupa Global IHHP’s global coverage is not affected by the change of residency, unless the policyholder or the insured person becomes a permanent resident of the United States.

Table 3: Change of Residency Terms Comparison

Insurer/ Product Terms on change of residency
AIA
CEO Medical Plan 5
If the insured has taken up residence in North America or Western Europe, benefits payable shall be reduced to 60%.
AXA Global Elite II
Health Plan - Prestige
If the insured changes Principal Country of Residence to the U.S., the amount payable on medical expenses incurred in the USA will be capped at 60%.
Bupa Global
International Health and Hospital Plan (IHHP)
The policy shall not be renewed at the next policy anniversary if the policyholder or the insured becomes a permanent resident of the U.S.
Cigna
HealthFirst Elite Medical Plan
If the insured’s country of residence of is the U.S. at the time of loss incurred, all benefits payable which takes place in the U.S.will be reduced to 60%.
HSBC
VHIS Flexi Plan - Diamond level
Not mentioned.
Remarks:
1. The insurance company should be notified if the residency of the insured is changed.
2. The data above is an excerpt and may not be complete. Please refer to the insurance companies and the terms and conditions for details.

Note that this product comparison is based on selected scenarios only. Readers should consider their personal and family needs before applying for insurance. You may use the 10Life Insurance Decoder to further compare international medical insurance.

Note:
  1. AXA Global Elite II Prestige: to be eligible for the Pregnancy and Delivery benefit, the insured must have attained over the age of 18. This benefit is only available for charges incurred after the insured has been covered for at least 12 consecutive months under the Prestige benefit level and has effected annual renewal of the same benefit level for the coming policy year.
  2. Bupa Global IHHP: Waiting period applies. Newborns can be covered from birth without completing an application form, regardless of any health conditions, when at least one parent has been covered on this plan for 12 months or more prior to the child’s birth, and a copy of the birth certificate is submitted within 30 days of the birth.
  3. AXA Global Elite II Prestige: both the Pre-existing Conditions benefit and the Manifested Congenital Conditions benefit share the same aggregate annual limit, thus any claims paid under one of these 2 benefits will reduce the remaining benefit available for both. Policy years 1 & 2: up to HK$ 18,000. Subsequent years: up to HK$ 36,000. Available only after 270 days of continuous cover.
  4. The premium rates above is updated as of 4th February 2022 and exclude any insurance levy collected by the Insurance Authority.
  5. The above information is updated as of 4th February 2022.

Disclaimer

10Life Product Comparison and 10Life Insurance Ratings are developed by 10Life Financial Limited, an authorised insurance broker company licensed with the Insurance Authority under License Number FB1526. 10Life Product Comparison and 10Life Insurance Ratings are developed for generic customer segments using mathematical calculations based on product information, facts and data, and are not influenced by any partnerships with or fees received from insurance companies.

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黃維立

AXA Unit Manager

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Nik, Leung Tsz Kei

梁芷萁

10Life Financial Manager, Insurance Specialist

4.8
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Arthur, Law Wing Kai

羅永楷

10Life Financial Manager of Business Development

5
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Winnie, Ng Wai King

吳惠琼

FTLife Agency Manager

4.8
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Even, Shum Miu Chu

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恆泰 高級理財顧問

4.6
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Philip, Lee Hon Lun

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YF Life Branch Manager

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