Home > Employee Benefits > Ebola health risks escalate as it reaches U.S.

Ebola health risks escalate as it reaches U.S.

ebolaHaving already claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, the Ebola outbreak is not only affecting civilians in Africa, but those in other areas of the world as well. Just this week, the virus reached the United States when a man traveling from Liberia to Dallas was diagnosed with the disease.  The risks are also real for companies whose employees travel through the area. From quarantines to  border closings, the outbreak has exposed employers, expat workers and business travelers to unexpected health scares.  According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), based on the outbreak’s current trajectory, affected areas like Liberia and Sierra Leone could soon have over 20,000 cases without effective methods to contain it. 

While insurance professionals recognize the threats behind these catastrophic events, employers may not, so it’s critical for organizations to ensure they have formulated and communicated an effective pandemic response in order to protect their employees with proper coverage. Most domestic (U.S.) benefit plans will cover health emergencies overseas, but employers and employees who want additional coverage for more than emergency care can purchase a global expatriate medical insurance policy or a medical business travel policy.

Companies must stay abreast of all government issued notices  (such as guidance from the World Health Organization, CDCP and International SOS), and should consider providing employees with personal protective equipment such as prevention kits and sanitation products. Many companies offer trainings to health care workers and conduct regular briefings to keep employees up to date on the latest developments and issues surrounding the outbreak. Currently, there is no preventative medicine available to protect foreign workers, so it’s critical to seek immediate medical attention if any warning signs of the disease appear. A comprehensive global medical policy will provide nurse lines, language support, directions to U.S. qualified doctors and evacuation assistance.

WGA Global offers a comprehensive selection of international medical and travel insurance programs. Click here to learn more and to find the carriers and products that are right for you and your unique situation.

About the Author

jimJames Kinney JD, LLM is a Senior Vice President at William Gallagher Associates, and leads the WGA Global Practice for Employee Benefits, overseeing the leadership of the firm’s international benefits strategy, including the placement of expatriate and local national programs.

617.204.6732| JKinney@wgains.com | Connect with Jim on LinkedIn

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