Aetna Int’l unveils Canadian expansion, targeting expats ‘coming in’ or leaving the country

Aetna International, the international arm of Hartford, Connecticut-based, NYSE-listed health insurance giant Aetna,  has announced a major expansion into Canada, beginning with the opening of an office in Toronto.

The company said it’s named Carrie Chapman to head up the new operation as country manager, that it’s planning to open “additional [Canadian] offices throughout 2017”, and that staff to run these new offices “are actively being hired” now.

These staff will, Chapman said, be offering Aetna International’s “fully compliant international health insurance plans [to] expatriate clients, whether coming into Canada or moving abroad”.

Chapman has been with Aetna International for the past 13 years, during which time she spent some time in its Japanese offices.

In Toronto, the company’s offices, which are now open for business, are located in the Yonge Eglinton Centre, on Yonge Street near the Eglinton entrance to the Toronto subway.

Aetna International claims to be one of the largest providers of private medical insurance services in  the international space, with more than 700,000 plan members worldwide, including expatriates, local nationals and business travellers. In 2014 Aetna acquired a major, Asia- and Middle East-focused rival in the international sector, InterGlobal.

Direct and brokered sales 

Aetna International said it plans to offer its new Canadian plans to everyone, regardless of whether they qualify for so-called “provincial cover” or not. (Unlike the UK, Canada doesn’t have a single national healthcare plan, but rather, a national health insurance system that is comprised of thirteen provincial and territorial health insurance plans, all of which share certain common features and basic standards of coverage.)

Tailored cover will be available for groups on either a direct-sale basis, or through brokers or other intermediaries, Aetna said.

International members of Aetna International plans will, the company says, receive access to a large medical network in Canada through Aetna’s Ottawa-based partner, Cowan Insurance Group,  which will include direct payment access to more than 30,000 physicians and hospitals providers, more than 99% of pharmacies, and dentists.

“In addition, Aetna members also have access to over one million providers in the United States and some 120,000 throughout the rest of the world,” the company said.

‘2.8% of global expat population’

According to Aetna International president and chief executive Richard di Benedetto,  Canada represents a “natural [next] step for Aetna International”,  as it looked to grow its business around the world.

One reason is that it has become an extremely desirable country in which people from other countries seek to live and work. Aetna International cites research carried out by Finaccord which indicates that this year, an estimated 2.8%  of the worldwide expatriate population, or around 1,615,800 individuals, will reside in Canada. Of this total, individual workers are estimated to account for around 54% of the total, and students around 10%, the Finaccord data reveals.

The Finaccord research also puts the number of people expected to emigrate away from Canada this year at almost 300,000.

This is, the researchers note, in addition to the estimated 2.8 million Canadians who already live abroad.

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