The last thing many parents of students heading abroad to study may wish to think about – but probably should – is signing their offspring up to a health insurance plan.
This, at least, is the case that April International is making this year, as it seeks to boost its policy sales to such students, by reminding their parents why it makes sense, according to April International UK business development director Joe Thomas.
And one of the arguments April makes to such parents is that having a private healthcare option to fall back on, in the event of an unexpected injury or illness, can ensure a college student misses fewer lectures and otherwise spends less time away from the classroom. (April, it should be noted, markets a health plan specifically designed for college students who are studying outside their home country, which it calls its Student International Health Plan.)
“Although many universities will ensure overseas and UK students have a local GP point of contact, very often, the support is quite basic,” Thomas, pictured left, explains.
“And with long GP wait times now common, today’s overseas students will often need more than this. This is why policies that offer private care and fast access to first-class treatment…are now so popular in countries where high concentrations of foreign students are located.”
April International cites a recently-published report by The Mix, a UK-based charity that provides free, confidential support for people under the age of 25, which outlines a number of illnesses that typically befall students, as supporting its case for a health insurance safety net.
The Mix list includes, for example, such almost-predictable ailments as “freshers’ flu” (“with hundreds of new students from around the globe coming together to begin university life, the resulting outbreaks of flu and other illnesses should come as no surprise”); but also such less-immediately obvious afflictions as meningitis, mumps and glandular fever.
Of these, April International points out, bacterial meningitis (rather than the viral kind), can develop rapidly, causing inflammation of the brain lining, and requires urgent medical attention. Young adults also happen to be the most at-risk group for this, which is why, according to April, students should always be on the lookout for symptoms, and have access to good medical treatment in the event that it were to develop.
Glandular fever, sometimes known as the “kissing disease”, is another concern for college students, April International and The Mix point out, with April noting that it can affect a student’s studies for more than six months.
“Add to this common sporting injuries and bouts of food poisoning, and it is clear why student health, and in particular, maintaining health so that studies are not interrupted, is now a core issue,” April said, in a statement outlining its approach to the student market.
“Brokers and providers agree that sales of private health insurance is growing in importance in this market, and with financial pressures rising each year, sales are likely to keep expanding.”
April International is the UK-based international arm of the Lyon, France-based, Euronext-listed insurance company, founded 28 years ago by Bruno Rousset and Xavier Coquard. It acquired MediCare International, a UK-based insurer focused on the international market, in 2012, re-branding and relaunching the business in 2015 as April International UK.
As reported, it acquired Hong Kong-based GlobalHealth Asia last year, which immediately gave it a presence in such key markets as Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Shanghai.
Today it has operations in 33 different countries, looking after close to 6 million policyholders worldwide, consisting of some 86 different nationalities located in more than 120 countries.
For more information on the April International UK’s Student International Health Plan, which has been on the market only about a year, click here.