Wed | Dec 12, 2018

JN Life enters international health insurance market with US$1m coverage

Published:Wednesday | July 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder/ Business Reporter
Oliver Tomlinson, general manager of JN Life Insurance Company.

JN Life Insurance Company is now offering health insurance coverage for policyholders visiting the Caribbean and United States, under different arrangements.

The plan will utilise the Aetna network for medical services for Jamaicans while in the United States, but will operate on an open network within Caribbean markets, with no limitations on medical providers, according to General Manager Oliver Tomlinson.

The product is also targeted at Jamaicans living overseas, who spend six months of the year in the island, periodically.

Tomlinson said that the JN Life International Health Insurance Plan offers access to healthcare providers in Jamaica, the rest of the Caribbean and the USA for emergencies and elective procedures. It aims to claim a share of the international health insurance segment that the GM said is valued at US$6 million to US$8 million or around $1 billion at the top end of the range.

The JN plan, launched in July, provides coverage for all medical costs while in hospital, diagnostics, outpatient treatment and surgeries, physical therapy and rehabilitation, prescriptions, home care and hospice care, maternity, medical equipment and other expenses.

The typical premium for a 35-year-old would be around US$1,619 per year, with payment over a maximum of 10 months, the company said.

"JN Life will pay 100 per cent of the relevant medical cost up to US$1 million annually for each person covered on this plan," said Tomlinson. "The plan also allows JN Life to be billed directly, eliminating the need for the customer to pay upfront for procedures and claim reimbursement," he said.

JN Life's Sales and Services Manager Dr Damian Ffriend says JN is "the first and only local company" to offer international health insurance. Other foreign-owned international plans are offered in Jamaica through brokers, but Tomlinson added that JN is the only home-based insurance company to own its own international plan.

Ffriend says the 'open system' would allow subscribers to the policy to present their JN health card to any medical provider in the Caribbean.

"What is required is that the cardholder fills out the preauthorisation form, which is available online, naming the institution and the procedure. We will make contact and do the due diligence necessary and then approve so the procedure can be done," said Ffriend.

Preauthorisation is also applicable to the US, where every diagnostic centre, medical practitioner and institution in the Aetna network is accessible by cardholders, he added.

"Our obligation to Aetna is simply to make sure we honour the bills. They bill [us] directly," said Ffriend.

As to the level of coverage, while Ffriend did not say where JN fell on the spectrum, he told the Financial Gleaner that "There are products in the market that offer the same and others that offer more. Those that offer more are significantly more expensive."

Tomlinson said the plan is available to new customers aged 18 to 64 years and has no upper age limit for renewal. Children can be covered on a parents plan from birth to age 26 years.

The most recent industry data seen by the Financial Gleaner for the annual performance of the life insurance market estimated premium income at $48 billion in 2016.

JN Life's premium income in 2017 was in excess of $500 million, collected from more than 40,000 policyholders, said Tomlinson.

"JN Life is a new entrant into the international health insurance market but hopes to not only glean a significant share of this market but to also expand the market by making this product more affordable and accessible to Jamaicans," Tomlinson said. However, he did not disclose the level of sales targeted for this segment.

The JN international health plan is underwritten through American company Global Benefits Group, and reinsured by Lloyds of London.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com