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Economics & Investments

Interview with the Pan American Life Insurance Group

Economics & Investments

Pan American Life Insurance Group (PALIG), a leading provider of life and health insurance in Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market is adjusting their coverage options based on the current trends in the market; they are active in finding new ways to stay above the competition during this challenging economic environment.

The Senior Vice President, International for PALIG shared some of the company’s innovations and interworkings that contributed to their success in 2011 and ensured continued success for the future.

PALIG had strong financial growth in 2011 with the Latin America Group’s sales at a growth of 24 percent, Domestic Markets saw a growth of 16 percent and Global Life Insurance grew by 9 percent.

They are planning to increase their growth in 2012 by maintaining their current clients and integrating the operations they are acquiring from MetLife, based on the agreement made in 2011 to acquire select businesses and assets.

Robert DiCianni, insurance professional and confirmed speaker for the 2012 World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress is in charge of all the International Operations for PALIG. He is responsible for driving growth in the corporation through the design and implementation of strategies and policies pertaining to sales, operations and human resources.

With 25 years of experience in the insurance industry, 20 of which were focused on Latin America; he is recognized as a leading expert. His presentation at the conference and the interview below will provide the perfect opportunity for others to gain insight from a leading company in the industry.

Is your company taking any innovative approaches that will distinguish it from the competitors?

Actually, we think our industry and, specifically, the markets in which we operate have been ready for some innovative ideas.  At PALIG, we have a few substantial innovations we have recently introduced:

i) In an unprecedented effort, we presented and obtained approval for a new medical product in seven markets concurrently.  Additionally, we are in the process of opening up a company in an eighth market, Mexico, to be able to introduce the same innovative solution we have launched in the other seven countries.  

In this day and age of easy and constant travel, and the pursuit of the best medical services possible, we identified a need throughout Latin America for an individual medical product that served the needs of consumers who want the best possible treatment and demand the highest quality service.  

This is our Private Client Health product, which provides access to the best hospitals worldwide (including in the U.S.) along with a concierge-level service.  In the past, some versions of this product have been available in selected markets, but now it can be purchased legally through our locally admitted insurance companies throughout most of Central America, Panama, Ecuador, and Colombia.  Additionally, as mentioned, we hope to soon make it available in Mexico.

ii) We have developed the first truly LATAM relative value fee schedule.  Additionally, we developed PALIG-MED a regionally-branded medical network to provide seamless coverage across borders for our portfolio of clients.

iii) The coverage for complications from cosmetic surgery that we developed for the Colombian market has been a revelation, and one of the most sought after forms of coverage in the country.  This option will provide in hospital coverage for any complications that arise and can be purchased at the time of the surgery.

Given the size of the market and the frequency, we saw an opportunity that wasn’t being attended to. Most people save up for the surgery, but not for complications that may arise. We are currently in the process of rolling this out in other countries and discussing offering coverage for LASIK complications.

Are there different levels of policies that your company offers?

Yes, we strive to offer coverage/costs that can satisfy the needs of various different segments of our markets.  These can range from the aforementioned Private Client Health coverage to limited medical coverage as a result of an accident, and most everything in between.

Are clients able to get treatments in different countries?

Yes.  Most of our coverages, (especially for our large multinational client base and our Private Client customers), provide coverage in the U.S. and/or top notch medical centers in the region.  Conversely, we can offer other plans that provide coverage only in an insureds country of residence or within a specific closed network of providers.  Again, our breadth of products and coverages allows us to come up with solutions that fit the requirements and pocketbook of various sectors.

How will the acquisition of MetLife affect your company and your clients?

As announced last November, we are in the process of acquiring various MetLife companies and assets in Panama, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean.  For us, it extends our geographic footprint through most of the Caribbean, and will give us a presence in 22 countries, while consolidating our market leader positions in Panama and Costa Rica.  

For our clients, we expect to be able to adopt the best practices of two of the pre-eminent Life and Health insurers in Central America into one leading provider of Life and Health services throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Ecuador, Colombia, and, eventually, Mexico.

Could you share more about PALIG’s medical network?

PALIG-MED is the evolution of many years of local provider relationships through our various local operations that date back as long as 100 years ago.  While we have for years maintained networks of providers in each of our local markets, we identified a need to have one region-wide brand and network that could be easily recognizable by both providers and insureds.  

From this concept rose PALIG-MED.  Today, we have a regional branded network that includes all of the leading medical facilities in our region (many of them now JCI accredited), with which we have had decades-long relationships.  

In just Central America, we have over 400 hospitals and close to 3,000 doctors in our PALIG-MED network. In 2011, PALIG-MED saved our insureds and clients around $4 million just in hospital bill audits and concurrent reviews.

Where do you see the industry going?

I think there’s an important trend toward involving the insured/patient in all aspects of healthcare, from contributing to the cost, to choosing providers, to taking lifestyle decisions with direct impact to their health.  

An important by-product of this is the need to provide appropriate and complete information to individuals regarding their healthcare and lifestyle choices (and, in many cases, clarify perceptions gained through internet-based “self-education”).  The issue of how lifestyle impacts healthcare costs and who takes responsibility for that is one that will continue to evolve.

Because of the cost-shifting to individuals and the generally high cost of healthcare, as the labor market recovers we expect healthcare-related employee benefits programs to be a key component in employee attraction and retention.

What are the notable changes you have seen in the industry over the past few years?

Individuals are increasingly educated with regard to healthcare, while the industry is increasingly aware of and publicizing the effect of lifestyle on health.

The continued transference of cost (and, to a lesser extent, choice) to the insured.

There are an increasing number of high-quality healthcare providers, many of which are outside of the U.S., that offer much more reasonable options in an economic sense.

The U.S. Healthcare Reform situation is an obvious change, although uncertainty there has resulted in a “wait-and-see” approach in many related aspects.

What do you expect to gain by attending our conference?

Insight as to where the industry is heading, innovative ideas, healthcare solutions, and emerging trends and needs in medical care.

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