If you have a team of remote workers, then you probably want to consider offering them health insurance. But that’s where things get a little challenging.

There are various options for providing your employees with health insurance, but not all of them are suitable for remote teams.

If you have staff distributed around the world, living in different countries, then you may want to look at the options below to better understand health insurance for remote workers.


How companies can offer remote workers health insurance

If your company is trying to figure out how to offer its remote workers health insurance, then you’re not alone. Health insurance is one of the #1 benefits that employees want from their jobs. And with the rapid rise in remote work globally, millions of people are looking for solutions that provide easily accessible health care benefits for their employees.

Many companies are also trying to boost their employee benefits to help attract and retain great staff. But it’s not always that simple to find health insurance for remote workers, especially when your staff members are not all living in one country like the USA.

Below we look at some of these solutions. One of the most popular is to provide specialized remote health insurance from companies like SafetyWing that cover your entire team, under one customizeable plan. The signup process is simple and adding additional coverage is also a straightforward process.


1. Use international health insurance

Many of the largest health insurance companies offer international health insurance cover, so you could start by checking if several of these companies have any reasonable packages to suit your needs. You can even contact your existing health insurance provider to see if they have a global policy.

One of the problems with these global health insurance plans is that they may be more limiting in the cover that they provide, so you will need to review all the benefits carefully and compare them with local providers. You should also ask your remote employees for their feedback about these policies to see what they think of the benefits compared with what’s typically available in their countries.

It’s also important to look at any specific limitations or exclusions that are imposed, especially if your remote staff travel quite often to different countries.


2. Get remote health insurance

For companies that have staff members living in different countries around the world while working remotely, it’s worth looking into remote health insurance for your team. For small companies that are starting out and growing their team, a flexible global insurance plan like that offers many benefits.

Many of these remote health insurance companies, like SafetyWing, offer plans that are very easy to purchase and customize. They offer both group insurance plans and individual plans, along with a selection of additional benefits that you can opt to purchase if you have the budget.

This means you can offer health care insurance to your remote team, regardless of whether they are working full-time, part-time or even freelancers. Plus, you can request a special digital nomad insurance for employees who travel frequently.


3. Find a local health insurance supplier in each country

Another option which you can consider if you employ people working remotely around the world is to look for local health insurance suppliers in each of those countries. These local agents can manage all aspects of employment for you, including health care. With their specialized local knowledge, they can also recommend the best options and benefits for health care insurance – whether it’s public or private health care.

But the drawback of using a local partner is that if you have staff in many different countries, then you’ll need to find multiple in-country health insurance suppliers. It also means that staff in different areas will receive different health care benefits and services. And it’s an added logistical challenge to deal with multiple partners.


4. Pay staff a medical stipend towards their health insurance plans

Another way of providing your remote staff with the medical care that they need is to pay them a monthly stipend which they can use to purchase their own local health care plan.

That way, as a company you don’t need to struggle with the hassle of contracting with many different local health care providers or agents, and employees can opt for the plans that suit them best. Employees then also have the freedom to opt for a government healthcare plan and use the savings on private medical cover to use towards fitness and wellness activities.

Another way to offer this is to reimburse employees monthly for their medical cover, up to a certain ceiling, upon receipt of proof of payment. The downside of this is that health care may be more expensive in certain countries and if the baseline isn’t high enough, many staff may still not be able to afford comprehensive private healthcare.

Another downside of paying staff a stipend towards their medical plan costs, is that some employees may not opt for private medical cover and may consequently not receive adequate care when they most need it.


5. Use an Employer of Record (EoR)

Companies that employ teams of remote workers can also choose to use an employer of record (EoR) to process and pay for local health care plans for staff. This is done by contracting the EoR (sometimes called a Professional Employer Organization or PEO) in a foreign country to manage and hire your foreign workers on your behalf. That way you don’t need to form a local company to hire staff.

The downside of this scenario is that if you have remote staff scattered throughout the world, then you will need to find EoRs in all of those countries and enter into contractual arrangements with all of them. For large companies, employing many staff members, this can be a huge administrative undertaking that can consume a lot of time and staff capacity. On the positive side, the EoR will have local knowledge and can possibly negotiate better health insurance rates.


Tips to better planning and understanding health insurance for remote workers

Understanding health insurance for remote workers can be complicated. There are a couple of options, many of which require dedicated research and time to negotiate and contract with local companies, partners or agents. Below are some general tips to help you better understand the process of providing and offering health care to your remote employees.


1. Ask employees what they want

The first step towards choosing a health care plan for your staff, is to find out from them what they actually want. Depending on the size of your team, you may be able to handle this process slightly differently, with smaller teams being able to have informal one-on-one conversations about the benefits that matter most to them and their thoughts about getting reimbursement for costs versus having a remote healthcare plan.


2. Research solution providers

Once you have a better idea of what matters most to your employees, and what benefits they actually want, you can start your research into suitable solutions. This may involve looking for a local healthcare partner, an EoR or researching and comparing remote workers’ health insurance plan benefits.


3. Select your healthcare plan

Once you’ve selected the healthcare plan that you will offer your remote employees, they can start accessing those benefits. It’s important that you maintain these contracts and relationships with providers to get full access to all the benefits and updates, and to actively manage changes, requests and complaints.


4. Review your healthcare plan choices

Just because you made a decision for the company about how it will provide healthcare benefits to your remote staff, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to review that decision in the future.

You should schedule time to get feedback from staff about how they feel about the healthcare plan you are providing and in time you may want to review adding additional benefits or changing to an upgraded plan. You may also need to make adjustments to suit your growing team, or to fit in with your company budget. Be sure to include staff with these conversations and give them sufficient notice if you plan to make adjustments or decisions that affect their benefits.


Reasons to offer remote staff healthcare benefits

There are many reasons why remote employees are particularly keen to get healthcare benefits as part of their employment package.

Understanding employee needs can help employers know how best they can attract and retain talent. Many employees are particularly keen on receiving healthcare benefits and doing so can help to attract and retain talent, to show your staff that you are committed to treating them equally and fairly, and helps incentivise staff to perform to their best ability.

Below are some of the top reasons to offer your remote staff healthcare benefits. These are motivating factors for employers to provide staff with healthcare benefits, no matter where they are located.


1. Attract and retain talent

Companies that are able to offer an attractive remuneration package to new staff are better able to attract top talents and retain them. And as the global workplace is becoming increasingly competitive, and people are able to work from anywhere in the world, it’s becoming more important to incentivize prospective employees to join your company.

Benefits that employers can offer include a great salary, a work-from-home budget to set up their offices, access to professional development training and courses, health and wellness stipends, flexible working hours, lots of holiday days, parental leave days and maternity benefits, and providing health care insurance.


2. Be equal and fair

In order to cultivate a healthy work environment and good company culture, you should aim for transparency and treating all staff equally. While that doesn’t mean that everyone has to be paid the same salary, it should mean that there are stand perks for everyone – like health care insurance or leave days.

By providing everyone with standard health care cover, you are showing that you care equally about all employees and are committed to treating them fairly.


3. Invest in your staff

Companies that show that they really care and that they make an effort to treat their staff well, to invest in their professional development and treat them fairly will gain respect and a reputation of being a great company to work for. That can help those companies attract talent and give them a good reputation with customers too.

That includes taking care of your staff’s mental and physical health and creating a positive company culture based on ethical values. By showing your staff that you are willing to invest in them and take care of them, you send out an important message and this will often be reciprocated by staff performing to the best of their abilities and remaining loyal to the company, and positive brand ambassadors.


Final thoughts on remote work + health insurance

Understanding health insurance for remote workers is a critical aspect of managing distributed teams of location-independent professionals. When your staff live in different countries and are looking for benefits like health care, it can be a challenge to figure out a practical solution for providing the same level of health care to all staff.

While there are a couple of options available to companies, like hiring an employer of record, paying staff a stipend towards their own healthcare costs, or contracting with individual in-country healthcare providers, it can be administratively most effective to opt for either a global healthcare plan for all staff or to get specialized remote health insurance.

Companies like SafetyWing make it easy for you to solve the problem of remote work + health insurance by offering company plans that cost the same for each member, no matter where they are located.