Pushing the Boundaries: Health Insurance Considerations in the New World of Work-From-Anywhere


Most Americans get their health care coverage through their employer.

Employers therefore need to rethink their approach to health care benefits in a new work-from-anywhere world. Traditional definitions of the globally mobile may no longer apply.

Global Mobility Has Expanded Since the Pandemic
Office setting illustration
Employees, Students, Individuals
Employees, Students, Individuals, Remote Workers, Location Independents
  • Business travel
  • Long-term global assignment
  • Study abroad
  • Leisure
  • Business travel
  • Long-term global assignment
  • Study abroad
  • Leisure
  • Workcation
  • Bleisure travel
  • International remote worker
Employers Need to Re-think Their Approach to Employee Benefits
Then arrow Now arrow
  • Work location defined by employer and often tied to a physical location
  • Employee populations easily defined (e.g., expat, business travelers, international business travelers)
  • Easier to carve out and/or tailor benefits to certain employee segments
  • Tailored risk management approach based on segments designated by the employer (e.g., expats on assignment)
  • Work location defined by employee and could be anywhere including abroad
  • No clear-cut designations for employee segments (anyone could be a business traveler)
  • Need to think more broadly about benefits beyond traditional employee segments
  • Different and broader approach to risk management required


Employers need to manage risk differently in a work-from-anywhere culture.
Remote Work Requires a Rethink of Benefits and Risk Management

Duty of care

  • Employee health and safety
  • Risk if employees have a medical emergency
  • International travel can be exciting but also exacerbate and bring about mental health issues

Legal and tax compliance

  • Employees working in other countries may trigger different tax and compliance regulations
  • Immigration and employment law
  • Permanent establishment and state nexus
  • Income tax residency/tax home determination


  • Domestic health plans are not designed to support international travel and living
  • Other insurance benefits may need to be revisited or considered (e.g., worker’s comp)


  • Considerations around employee physical security as well as information security
  • Data privacy and cyber considerations
Key Considerations for Employers
Gear-head iconDo you have highly skilled workers in technical and creative roles?

It’s no surprise that digitally savvy workers with job functions such as IT, web design, digital marketing, creative design and engineering are most likely to seek location-independent status. Companies with a high concentration of technical work teams may be experiencing a surge in employees going global.

Gear-head iconWhat type of international travel policy do you have?

Travel accident and travel medical policies are different, with travel medical policies providing primary medical coverage (including medically necessary evacuations) when outside the employee’s home country. Both may only cover employees who are officially traveling on company business, not those who desire to be location independent.

Gear-head iconIf you have an international travel medical policy, does it cover leisure or vacation travel?

International travel medical policies may not cover leisure or vacation travel, which is how employers tend to view independent global mobility. Employees who independently decide to live and work outside their home country may assume they are covered but end up paying for their own medical expenses, including medically necessary evacuations if their condition calls for it.

How International Health Care Plans May Benefit Globally Mobile Employees
Doctor's office setting illustration
Without an International Health Care Solution Recommended Capabilities of an International Solution
  • Risk burden falls to the employer or domestic health plan
  • Domestic telemedicine services may not extend globally
  • Medically necessary evacuations are typically not covered, resulting in thousands of dollars that may not be reimbursed
  • Plans risk noncompliance in countries with specific health insurance regulations
  • Employees pay up-front for care that may not be reimbursed
  • Domestic medical plans operate during U.S. business hours, which can result in delays in validating benefits and authorizing care
  • Multilingual support is available 24/7/365 from an integrated customer service and medical assistance team
  • The plan assumes 100% of the risk for claims
  • Global telemedicine services are available, allowing worldwide access to doctors by mobile phone or video
  • Medically necessary evacuation coverage is a benefit option
  • All provided coverage satisfies visa requirements
  • The carrier arranges for direct payment with providers, reducing the burden of out-of-pocket costs to employees

A range of solutions for employers to consider.

Employers should consider their employee’ health insurance needs, even if they don’t plan to provide employer-sponsored health insurance. There are opportunities to steer employees in the direction of individual international travel medical policies that can provide the proper protection and mitigate the stress and financial burden of dealing with an unexpected health event in an unfamiliar healthcare system.

Option 1

Option 1: Inform and Advise

If the company is going to allow a remote work-from-anywhere policy, including the ability to work remotely abroad, they have a duty of care to:

  • Inform employees about the risk in relying on their employer-sponsored domestic plan while abroad
  • Encourage employees to purchase a travel medical policy to protect themselves while abroad; some companies have mandated that employees show proof of such insurance before allowing for international remote work
Option 2

Option 2: Promote

In addition to informing about the risks and advising to purchase travel medical insurance, GeoBlue® has worked with some employers to provide a discounted rate for their entire employee population to purchase individual travel medical policies at a discount.

A national hotel chain recently allowed its employees to work remotely abroad for one month during the summer. We provided a 5% discount on our individual travel medical policies for employees of this company, enabling their employees to obtain coverage while providing the company HR team with reassurance that the employees were covered in case of a medical incident during their time working remotely abroad.

Option 3

Option 3: Sponsor and Subsidize

For employers who wish to sponsor and subsidize group coverage for their entire employee population, GeoBlue offers a range of solutions including our Blue Cross Blue Shield Global (BCBS Global) Traveler Companion product, which is designed to supplement an underlying Blue Cross® Blue Shield® domestic plan and cover all employees for both business and leisure travel on a group blanket basis.

Companies can also leverage our specialized group international health insurance products including BCBS Global Traveler Companion, which is designed for short-term international business travel, or our long-term expatriate health insurance product, BCBS Global Expat.

For any of the above solutions, contact our sales team to learn more.