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Changes we're making to our Health Proposition

Our key announcements for our 2020 Health Proposition are improvements to our pricing models for calculating premiums and two new low-cost plans with worldwide cover. The changes to our pricing model allow us to price more accurately and sustainably, while the introduction of BronzeLite and SilverLite will give our members a greater degree of choice. We’re also taking the William Russell brand in a fresh direction. It’s an iterative process, but you’ll notice improvements from now onward. Plus, we’ll soon release some long-awaited online functionality to make life easier for our members and brokers alike.

We're building an insurance experience that's both personal and fair. We've a long way to go, but we're putting the building blocks in place―starting with our 2020 Health Proposition. We're focused on making our health plans fairer and easier to understand, bringing greater visibility to our optional benefits and plans, and we're working on a content programme to provide clearer guidance about the key features of each plan. Below you'll find the changes we're making to the 2020 Health Proposition, broken down by topic. We've provided some context to the changes, plus briefings that highlight the key messages for you to download and take away.

We believe in people

Some insurers rely on AI and Big Data to do their work for them. We think differently. Healthcare is a highly personal experience, so it deserves a personal service. We’re a team of real people, at the end of a phone when members really need us. We don’t hide behind call centres or bot webchats.

We’re committed to sustainability

Healthcare is expensive, and—sadly—costs are on the up. We do everything possible to spread this inflation fairly. We calculate premiums with a long-term pricing model, and we give members tailoring tools to help reduce their premium without compromising their cover.

Transparency matters to us

Insurance is about trust, so we believe in being fair and open. This belief informs our idea of healthcare as a partnership between our members and us. That’s why we’re completely upfront with our health plans, and we want members to understand precisely what they’re buying.

Changes by topic

Health Proposition

The main change to our 2020 Health Proposition is the introduction of two new low-cost plans. These two plans (BronzeLite and SilverLite) replace the Essential plans, which are now only available to existing members. The BronzeLite and SilverLite plans are low-cost, capped-benefit plans, but more closely related to the Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans in terms of their benefits and areas of cover.

This change flattens our product suite: we now have a single range of health plans, as opposed to the old Elite and Essential ranges. This makes plan comparisons easier for our members, and also brings greater visibility to our low-cost plans. In the spirit of making our plans easier to understand, we’ve also introduced a new model for building health plans. The aim is to provide more guidance to members when they are choosing a health plan, while drawing greater attention to our optional benefits and plan options.

Finally, we’ve spent time building out product stories for each health plans. These might be as simple as who is the plan designed for and standardised descriptions across our sales assets, but we think they’re important and will provide better discussion points for your customers.

Briefing for the 2020 Health Proposition

Pricing Model

Most of the work we’ve done for the 2020 health plans is behind the scenes, where we’ve improved the way in which we calculate premiums.

We’re always working to make our premiums fair and sustainable for our members, but this objective has taken on greater importance as the cost of private healthcare around the world rises. This healthcare inflation is driving up premiums from all insurance providers; for our part, we’re doing everything we can to spread the inflation fairly.

We’ve improved our pricing model so that premiums are fairer for members, with more accurate calculations and a smoother spreading of the premium inflation that comes with rising healthcare costs.

The most significant improvement is age-specific premiums. Previously we calculated a member’s premium according to the age bracket the member fell into (e.g. 25-29, 30-34). This method could be problematic, with members occasionally experiencing big jumps in their premium when they passed into a new age bracket. We now calculate premium according to a member’s actual age. This method makes things fairer because premiums will increase more gradually year-on-year. This method also means we can calculate premiums more accurately, which helps to keep our pricing model sustainable for the long term.

In the briefing below, we’ve provided additional guidance for other changes to our pricing model, along with commentary on which groups of members are likely to be most impacted by the 2020 premiums. Our policy services team is closely monitoring plan renewals, and we’ll warn you in advance if any customers will experience higher-than-usual premium increases in 2020. We’ve created a webpage that provides additional information about our approach to pricing.

Briefing for the 2020 Pricing Model

Benefit & Wording Changes

Most of the work we’ve done for the 2020 health plans is behind the scenes, and the changes to the benefits and wordings in the plan agreements are minimal. You’ll notice, however, that the new plan agreement contains the two new low-cost, capped-benefit health plans:BronzeLite and SilverLite.

You’ll also see a slightly different design style in the plan agreements. We’re putting foundations in place for a stronger William Russell brand. You’ll see more of this over the coming months, as we roll the design changes across our websites and sales assets.

In the briefing below, you can find the changes we’ve made to the wordings in the plan agreements, plus information on our improvements to the hospital cash benefit and well-child benefit.

Briefing for the 2020 Benefit & Wording Changes

Areas of Cover

We’ve reviewed the areas of cover available with the health plans, simplifying the options available to members and making the wording for each easier to understand.

We understand that the areas of cover haven’t been sufficiently clear for the past few years. There are reasons for this, but we should have done better. For 2020, we’ve put these troubles to bed with a simplified model for the areas of cover, simplified wordings, and a clearer presentation.

From 01 January 2020, there are only three zones, with consistent coverage and wordings across all health plans. Plus, we’re still offering the USA cover options when a member selects Zone 1.

Briefing for the 2020 Areas of Cover

Excess Options

Improving our excess options is an on-going exercise, and has formed an important part of the pricing improvements we’ve made for the 2020 health plans.

We’ve re-introduced the $250 per annum excess, and we’ve made some tactical changes to the discounts and loadings for certain excess options. Our objective is to bring legacy groups of members, many of whom enjoy generous discounts for their excess option, into line with our main book of members. We’re also committed to clearer presentation of the excess options available to members in our sales assets. You can find full information on the excess options in the briefing below.

Briefing for the 2020 Excess Options

Changes for Hong Kong

In January 2019, we separated health plans for residents of Hong Kong from the main health plans. This action was in response to spiralling costs of private healthcare in Hong Kong. Across several branches of medicine, the cost of treatment in Hong Kong almost matches the cost we would expect in the United States of America. In our view our standard health plans were not appropriate for the Hong Kong market, both in terms of benefits and pricing.

12 months on, it’s too early to assess the impact of these changes. We want to give ourselves more time to consider what the health plans should look like in Hong Kong, but it’s likely that we will adopt similar changes for Hong Kong as we have done for our health plans for the rest of the world. We’re also considering introducing one or perhaps two low-cost, capped-benefit plans.

The 2020 health plans will be available from March 2020. Members with a plan renewal date before March will be offered renewal terms on their existing plan.

In the briefing below, you can find our timelines for introducing the 2020 health plans in Hong Kong, along with additional commentary on changes we plan to make.

Briefing for the 2020 Hong Kong Changes

Sales Strategy

As part of our commitment to greater transparency in the way we work, we’re providing our brokers with greater guidance on our approach to winning new business in 2020.

In the early 1990, William Russell started out as a small health insurance provider specialising in IPMI plans for expatriate individuals and small international businesses. The market has changed since then, and many of our competitors are now fighting for corporate business. We’re taking a different position in the market―our old position―and staking our claim for individuals and small businesses. We’re still happy to quote for plans for larger businesses, but we wish to be known as the partner of choice for individuals and SMEs for international health insurance.

This is where we’ve been strong in the past, and where we want to be strong in the future. The briefing below summarises our approach to sales for the next 12 months.

Briefing for our 2020 Sales Strategy

Megan Lewis (Senior Sales Consultant, UK)

+44 1276 486 477

Andrew Law (Country Head, Hong Kong)

+852 3702 6161

Michael Lewars (Commercial Director)

+44 1276 486 477

James Cooper (Sales Director)

+44 1276 486 477

Documents for the 2020 health plans