Aetna International, the international healthcare insurance arm of Hartford, Connecticut-based Aetna, said its employee assistance programme is to become a standard benefit across the majority of its international medical insurance plans.
The programme is provided through Aetna’s “vendor partner”, Work Place Options, and is designed to address the emotional health needs of individuals, which is seen as benefiting the companies that employ them because people who are managing the demands of work, family and finances while on overseas assignments – as many of Aetna International’s policyholders are – are presumed to be more productive.
David Healy, general manager for Aetna International in Europe, explained that Aetna believes emotional health “is a large factor in overall health”.
“For expats, emotional health can become a pressing concern, because of the additional challenges of working outside one’s home country,” he added.
“Without treatment, mental health concerns can affect job performance as well as contribute to workplace accidents, and increase staff turnover and absenteeism.”
The thinking behind offering what the company calls “EAP” as a standard service, Healy says, is that enables employers to “avoid the need to provide this as a separate benefit to their overseas staff”.
Under the programme, Aetna International plan members can access confidential counselling from behavioural health experts in more than 200 countries around the world, at any time of day, 365 days a year.
Areas the programme is designed to address, according to Aetna International, include helping employees to improve their family communications; improve the “harmony” between their work and home life; and help them to handle stress, survive the loss of a loved one, cope with anxiety and depression, deal with bullying issues if they have any, and manage any workplace pressures.
Aetna International members can receive up to five sessions of counselling per issue per year either online, via the telephone or in person, depending on their plan level, according to the company.
Aetna International claims to be one of the largest providers of international private medical insurance services, with more than 700,000 plan members worldwide, which it says includes expatriates as well as nationals in some non-US markets and business travellers. Its global benefits include medical, dental, vision and emergency assistance and, in some regions, life and disability cover.