iPMI Global Speaks with Ross Walker, COO, Global Individual Health Business, Cigna Healthcare

In this exclusive iPMI Global interview, Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMI Global, met with Ross Walker, COO, Global Individual Health Business at Cigna Healthcare. They discussed 2023 in detail and looked at the achievements of Cigna Healthcare.

Please introduce yourself and background in the international private medical insurance (iPMI) market:

I am the Chief Commercial Officer for our Global Individual Health business at Cigna Healthcare. I am based in Dubai and am responsible for the continued growth of sales across direct, broker and partnerships channels.

I joined Cigna Healthcare back in 2011 in the start-up Global Individual Health business and have held diverse roles across Marketing, Strategy and Product Management in Asia Pacific. I rejoined our individual health business last year after a 3-year stint as Head of Strategy & Transformation for Cigna Healthcare in the Middle East & Africa Region.

In the past 12 months, what has your business achieved in the iPMI market?

A lot! We have continued to be very focused on deepening our relationships with our broker partners around the world and I have been privileged to spend a lot of time on the road meeting people. Behind the scenes, we have dialed up our broker sales and support team capabilities in Glasgow and Dubai. It was also hugely insightful to bring together 30 of our global partners at our Global Broker Advisory Council event, which took place in Cape Town in March, uniting strategic partners to collaboratively shape our future strategy.

Responding to the growing need for high quality expatriate health insurance for those retiring abroad, we also introduced our new Cigna Global Plan for Seniors in the second half of this year.  Anyone over the age of 60 who lives overseas can benefit from a new plan that includes a benefit for some common pre-existing conditions including diabetes, hypertension and arthritis, as well as offering full coverage for cancer, and wellbeing.

How did you do it?

Increasingly, customer insights are fundamental to every decision that we make. I am continually pushing my team to ground themselves in data to make sure we have the right focus and are responding to customer and broker needs most effectively. We have supplemented this with our close collaboration with our Global Broker Advisory Council broker members which has given us valuable insights directly into what customers are most passionate about.

The key for us is that we have a dedicated Global Individual Health business which is deeply attuned to the needs of globally mobile individuals, so this really helps drive the focus.

Geographically speaking, where are the “hot” international private medical insurance (iPMI) markets currently?

The US is key. There is an increasing demand for inbound customers to North America but also outbound, particularly to Europe. I believe that the strength of the Cigna Healthcare brand gives us a strong right to win in this growth segment.

We have also seen a significant demand thrust from international students. Students and often their parents are increasingly seeking high quality global individual solutions to ensure they have access to quality care should they need it.

Finally, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is consuming a lot of our thinking now. My colleagues at Cigna Healthcare Middle East & Africa made history this year by becoming the first international health insurance company to receive a branch license from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

Looking at 2024, what do you have planned for the international private medical insurance (iPMI) market?

2024 brings a great opportunity for us to focus on continued growth within the global individual healthcare market. Our digital transformation program is ratcheting up a gear and we will launch new payment technologies to make it easier for our customers to pay for their health insurance and double down our focus on making the customer journey as simple as possible, including the application process for customers joining Cigna Healthcare.

We will be refreshing our flagship product – Cigna Global Health Options – in February. Following feedback from our Global Broker Advisory Council, we have enhanced our levels of cover within our Health and Wellbeing optional module for physical examinations, cancer screenings and health checks. Whilst including new benefits for dietetic consultations and diabetes screenings.

Since Covid-19, how has the international private medical insurance (iPMI) market changed?

Following the pandemic, people are more aware of their own health and well-being than ever before. Quality and trusted individual medical insurance solutions are now key after for expats who are living abroad.

We have also seen an uplift in employers providing employees with a budget to purchase their own individual plans.

New visa categories are also helping fuel demand, think about the number of countries offering Golden Visas and visa options for digital nomads.  

What role is artificial intelligence and machine learning playing in the international private medical insurance (iPMI) market?

A.I is still nascent within our business. However, we are deploying many use cases across claims, customer service, sales and actuarial. I’m excited about the implications that this can have to improve the experience for our customers, and we are committed to investing in continued customer experience enhancements during 2024.

When we look at the global iPMI market, where do you see the major opportunities?

This market has always offered a lot of opportunities for brokers, and I believe customers are increasingly looking for partners they can trust not only to recommend the right plan, but also to support them when they have a health issue or need to make a claim.

How do you estimate the market size of the international private medical insurance (iPMI) market and what is it worth?

The iPMI market is a notoriously difficult one to size. The market isn’t simply expats living outside of their country, it can also include high net worth individual locals who require cross border coverage whilst they move from country to country for example.

One thing is certain, the market continues to grow, and I remain excited about the continued opportunities that will allow Cigna Healthcare to offer quality healthcare solutions to our brokers’ customers.


UnitedHealthcare Global

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iPMI Global is the leading business intelligence provider for international private medical, health, travel and expatriate insurance markets worldwide. Due to the nomadic nature of the international private medical insurance (IPMI) market, iPMI Global is an internet based news service for worldwide insurance and medical assistance professionals who need to understand the impacts of insurance and healthcare policy, regulatory, and legislative developments.

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