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The key to making the most of your assignment abroad

Learn more about what employers can do to best support expat workers and their families.

The key to making the most of your assignment abroad
Photo: michaeljung/Depositphotos

Moving to another country, whether on assignment or independently, can be incredibly rewarding.

Such a move offers the opportunity to experience a different culture, a new city, new people and an alternative working environment.

However, international assignments present a unique set of challenges for the health and well-being of an expatriate and their family, who must cope with the emotional stresses associated with moving overseas.

When 43-year-old Aurélie, a financial services employee, relocated from France to Singapore with her two young daughters, things went well at first.

“The girls were settling in their new school and I felt like I was adjusting to my new role,” she recalls.

However, just two months into her assignment Aurélie learned that her mother had a serious illness, and she began to doubt her decision to move to Singapore.

Get a quote on an Allianz Care international healthcare plan

“I felt guilty about not being there for my mother and father, and that my daughters were not able to spend time with them,” she explains.

“I became increasingly unhappy, feeling isolated from my family and vulnerable.”

Lack of support network

While an ill parent may have triggered Aurélie’s predicament, the difficulty of dealing with any number of challenging situations can be amplified for people working abroad, threatening the success of their overseas assignment.

One of the main stresses for many expatriates is the lack of a support network during a time in their lives when they often need more support than ever.

LEARN MORE: Employer healthcare and support plans from Allianz

Indeed, many of the most common difficulties experienced by expatriates stem from simply adapting to new social and cultural environments while at the same time trying to balance taking care of themselves, their families, and work responsibilities.

Some expatriates can be overwhelmed by the stress of living and working overseas, even without the added complication of a family illness or other difficult situation.

Altogether, these difficulties can leave expatriates and their families more susceptible to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, affecting the employee’s well-being and possibly the success of their assignment.

Left unchecked, these stresses can result in assignment failure and premature repatriation, leading to further upheaval that can affect employees’ professional confidence and self-esteem, and even result in dissatisfaction upon returning to work in their home country.

With so much at stake, employers must consider how they can support their globally mobile employees and manage the risks associated with international assignments from the outset.

Implementing a comprehensive healthcare strategy that protects both the physical and mental well-being of employees can be a first step in helping to mitigate these risks.

Employee Assistance Programmes

Global assistance and wellness programmes help expatriates take positive steps to improve their physical and mental well-being, reducing the impact of stress, poor health and lifestyle choices while living and working overseas.

When Aurélie was considering cutting off her overseas assignment and moving back to France, she was advised by HR to take advantage of the company’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), powered by Allianz Care.

Soon thereafter she was put in touch with a counsellor who helped her come to terms with her feelings and helped her cope more effectively, ultimately saving her and her company from a messy premature repatriation.

Click here to learn more about the Employee Assistance Programme

“It really helped having someone to talk to. I realised that I could still support my mother, but that moving to Singapore was the right decision for my daughters and me,” Aurélie explains.

An EAP helps companies support their employees in work and life abroad by offering a range of 24/7 multilingual support services.

It helps employees and their dependants address a wide range of challenges, from work-related stress and relationship concerns to major life events like births and deaths.

Employees have access to confidential professional counselling – available face-to-face or via phone, video, email and online chat.

In addition, the EAP also offers crisis incident support, legal and financial services, and access to the Allianz Care wellness website.

LEARN MORE: find out which Allianz Care healthcare plans suit you

And expat workers who aren’t part of an employer healthcare plan may want to consider the Expatriate Assistance Programme, powered by Allianz Care.

It offers the same services as those provided to employees and is available to anyone who purchases an individual or family international health insurance plan through Allianz Care.

Whether you’re being sent abroad by your company or venturing out on your own to work in a new country, give yourself the support you deserve by taking advantage of the Expat or Employee Assistance Programmes, powered by Allianz Care.

After all, why should the challenges of everyday life get in the way of enjoying the adventure of a lifetime?

Click here for a quote on an international health insurance plan from Allianz Care

 

Philippe Fassier, Sales Director – Partnership & Affinity Business at Allianz Partners

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Allianz Care.

 

For members

HEALTH

How Norway’s health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face

Learning about Norway's National Health Insurance Scheme is essential. So here's a look at some common problems foreigners in Norway come up against and how to avoid them.

How Norway's health insurance scheme works and the common problems foreigners face
Here's how to avoid common problems with the National Health Insurance Scheme. Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Norway’s National Health Insurance Scheme

The word ‘free’ is used loosely when it comes to describing healthcare in the Scandinavian country. Norway’s healthcare system is financed through national and municipal taxes. So residents are supporting their ‘free’ services through tax. Truly free health insurance is only offered to those under 16 years of age who do not pay taxes to Norway. 

Access to Norway’s healthcare and social services is not determined by whether you are a Norwegian citizen, nor whether you are registered in the National Population Register or pay taxes in Norway. It is based on residence or employment. But before you settle in and assume you’re covered from day one, there are some provisions.

  • To be considered a resident of Norway, you must have plans to live in the country for at least twelve months.
  • Membership with Norway’s National Health Insurance Scheme is only available for those who are in the country legally.
  • If you are planning on staying in Norway for less than twelve months, are not working, but have strong ties to the country, then you may be entitled to voluntary membership of Norway’s National Health Insurance Scheme.

If you are legally living in Norway but plan on studying or working abroad for a period of time, look here to see your healthcare membership eligibility while outside the country. 

And the common problems foreigners need to overcome?

  • Signing up 

According to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV), you will be automatically enrolled in the Norwegian National Health Insurance Scheme if you are legally working or living in Norway.

Processing times can range from a few days to a month, and you will usually receive confirmation through the post when you have been added to the system.

Healthcare is a large part of the Norwegian National Health Insurance Scheme, as are social services such as welfare. If you need economic support, you can apply for assistance if you are legally living in the country. How much you will receive depends on your situation and application processing times vary between each individual evaluation and municipality. 

READ MORE: Seven things foreigners in Norway should know about the healthcare system 

There are many rules and guidelines if you decide to apply for economic assistance. To see what procedures, information, and advice you are entitled to, look here.

Self-employed workers are also entitled to the same benefits as traditional employees in Norway. Though it is up to them to register events like sick leave on their own. 

  • Somethings are not free

The healthcare system in Norway is of a high standard and covers most expenses. Because it is so comprehensive, many new to the country assume that all health matters are covered by national health insurance. It is important to remember that vision and dental insurance are not a part of the public health care plan. 

Dental treatment is free for those between one and 18 years of age. If you are 19 or 20 years old, you must pay 25 percent of the total bill. If you are 21 or older, then you are required to foot the bill. 

However, there are exemptions for special cases. You can find out more about the payment exceptions here.

Eye exams, contact lenses, and glasses are not covered by public health insurance. These are normally services offered by private companies such as Spec Savers and Brilleland.

In addition to vision and dental, cosmetic surgeries are also not covered by public health insurance. 

Here is a price list for common services in Norway.

What is a frikort?

frikort or an “exemption card” is a card given out once you have reached the maximum limit of fees the public is required to pay per calendar year. In 2021, the maximum amount in fees you are expected to pay is 2,460 kroner before being eligible for a frikort

  • Many things have gone digital 

Many newcomers to Norway are surprised to find how digitalised health services in the country are. After you have become a member of the national insurance scheme, you can go online to order prescriptions, find available appointments with your GP, have digital communication with their doctor, and look at summaries of past medical appointments. 

For an overview of all the services and information, you can use online, look here.

  • Finding your GP

While your acceptance into the National Health Insurance Scheme may be automatic, it is up to you to choose your GP. 

There are a few guidelines to be aware of if you, for some reason, want to change from your original choice. You are allowed to change your GP up to two times in one year. You can also choose to switch if you officially change your address or if your GP cuts their patient list. You can find a list of general practitioners at legelisten.no.

  • The waiting times

As previously stated, the standard of health care in Norway is high, and you can visit your GP or a specialist as often as you need them. But it is not uncommon to have to wait a few weeks before you find an available appointment. The same goes for non-critical surgeries. It is not unusual to wait up to six months for a non-life-threatening yet necessary surgery.

Useful Vocabulary

egenandel – deductible

fastlege – general practitioner 

optiker – optometrist 

tannlege – dentist 

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