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Darryl Goodhand, Allianz Partners Australia

Like other destinations, Australia requires international students to have an Overseas Student Health Cover policy to avoid costs to the taxpayer. Heading up the country’s largest OSHC provider, Allianz Partners, Darryl Goodhand explains the challenges and way forward in the sector.

 

“There is a growing desire and awareness for different vaccinations and preventative medications”

The PIE: What does Allianz Global Assistance do?

Darryl Goodhand: We are part of the world’s largest assistance company. As a company, we do a lot of things: travel, roadside, additional assistance. I look after overseas student health cover and overseas visitor health cover. This speaks to our purpose as a company which is we secure our customers future. We plug it into providing continuity certainty and confidence in policy users and the institutions we deal with.

The PIE: There are other providers of insurance, why Allianz?

DG: What each of us brings to market is slightly different but we all are required by legislation to deliver a certain health insurance product. How we deliver the benefits of that product vary. The way we look at it, we have a 24-hour, seven-day assistance approach to helping our customers. We add value to the policy by providing access to general practitioners that students may not otherwise get.

“Data is big for us to tailor our work rather than one one off the shelf package”

We also provide access to being able to manage policies and ask questions at the coalface, such as putting team members at university campuses. We’re right where our students are so that we can help them. That’s driven the value that we take to market for our policyholders which is probably one of the reasons that we are, in terms of market share, the leader.

The PIE: What is a good service and insurance?

DG: It starts with how fast we pay claims. There are a number of access options that are available to students, like our app for example, which cut down on the time it takes. All the student needs to do is take a picture, press a button, and submit. It gets processed within 24 hours.

We also have more direct billing doctors than almost all other, if not all other, funds in this space. Our policyholders are more likely to be able to find a doctor who will bill us for the cost as opposed to billing them. Our 24-hours, seven days a week doctors on-demand telehealth service provides no-cost access to a GP. Those services keep the cost down for the student, open up access, and allow them to get the benefit from being an OSHC policyholder.

The PIE: Is there a broader conversation that needs to happen to get students to engage with selecting additional services?

DG: There’s a challenge in getting that message through to the student. Everyone I deal with in the industry is interested in the right outcome for the student. It’s how do we find the time and the headspace for everyone to have that conversation.

OSHC, even at the cost it’s at, is a minor part of the overall decisions around where individuals study and go. If students choose to buy a different product, I’m totally fine with that as long as it’s student-led. It has to be customer-led. They need to have a conversation, it needs to be at least two to three minutes because it’s worth the time to have the right conversation.

The PIE: Every semester means a new set of students, and restarting that conversation. Is it getting easier?

DG: It’s being driven by the student because they are far more informed, knowledgeable, and digital savvy. When they come into the pipeline they know what they want to know. It’s often the student prompting the conversations not just about the institution but why should I buy that product. Parents are also engaged and understand.

“Getting the student to take action and call [a] doctor is key”

What we need to do is have the right conversations with education agents and with institutions and provide this information, because we know that people are looking for it.

The PIE: Are there any trends international student healthcare?

DG: Mental health is a big one. There is a growing desire and awareness of different vaccinations and preventative medications. We recently did some research with our customer base around the things that were important to them from a health and care perspective and a lot of them told us they were suffering from cold and flu.

But also getting the student to take action and call our doctors on demand to say they have a sniffle and a fever, or making an appointment is key. A lot of what I talk about with education agents specifically is please tell your students and the parents that we want them to speak to a doctor. That’s starting to work and the data is showing certain cohorts are starting to use doctors on-demand and telehealth more.

The PIE: Where is Allianz working for mental health and wellbeing?

DG: We have done mindfulness days, we’ve done things like silent discos to help people manage stress. We helped produce a diet and nutrition publication, and fun things like bring animals onto campus.

With our education agents, we work with them on activities outside of the university. So we help take groups of students on weekends to the country where they get to experience the farms and fruit picking, and we’re helping with vaccinations.

Data is big for us to tailor our work rather than one off the shelf package where we go, “there go industry, use it”. It’s got to be about the needs of that individual customer.

“They need to have a conversation… because it’s worth the time”

The PIE: It’s cheaper to prevent a cold than to spend five days in the hospital recovering. Do you have a general idea of the cost benefit between having pets on campus and not doing that?

DG: I don’t have a return on investment model. Intuitively, being able to do these activities does help people manage change, it does help them work their way through the “W” curve. They’re not overly expensive but if they’re enjoyable and it helps them with their experience, it helps them stay healthy, then that’s a good outcome.

Putting aside the cost of the claim, keeping somebody healthy and productive and engaged is a much better outcome for the community than it is in terms of just dollars in the bank.

The PIE: Can you explain the “W” curve further?

DG: At a very high level, the “W” curve is about the different change dynamic that students experience when they come to Australia. From being here being excited, to being stressed because they are away from home experiencing detachment from family.

They go through this curve, it looks like a “W”, they get to the end of their degree and all of a sudden it’s fantastic again. How we all work with our customers through that period is key, which is why when we’re working with our partners we’re doing different activities.

We don’t drive it, but we support and collaborate and go “we can help you with that because we’re a health insurer we’re an assistance company, we’ve got activities that will help”.

The PIE: What is Allianz Partners looking at moving forward?

We’re quite future-focussed now in our product development and we go through an annual round of product review and benefit updates. Moving forward the things we’re looking at are more structured preventative programs. I’m hoping in the next four to five months, we’ll be in a position to make some announcements about some great initiatives that will help all of our partners and all of our customers.

 

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