What we have learned from the global health crisis: When planning for a second citizenship or residence, don’t forget to protecting your health

With the introduction of CBI (Citizenship-by-investment) programs, structures have been put in place to allow for maximum preservation of wealth, financial security and freedom of travel. The recent events related to COVID-19 have shifted priorities and made investors reconsider the selection of programs.

Access to a quality and responsive healthcare team along with medical services is the factor that has gained considerable importance in the investment migration industry.

So far, residence and citizenship programs have been designed primarily to optimize global mobility and freedom of settlement. A residence or citizenship of a Caribbean country, for example, comes with excellent travel benefits.

However, this is of not much help when borders are closed, and you require immediate medical assistance. In most cases, entering a country with closed borders is only possible if you are a citizen of the respective nationality. This means that holding a Caribbean passport will allow you to travel to the respective country despite closed borders, but nowhere else.

As long as you are healthy, these islands can be beautiful places to “sit-out” a health crisis to be under control and vanish. Such islands have relatively low travel rates and limited interactions with the outside world, offering a lower risk of infection compared to busy places like metropoles such as London, New York or Milano. Compared to other countries with investment migrations programs, a shutdown, effective control of infections, and containment of a virus can be managed much better.

However, as soon as you require medical assistance and access to healthcare, such places can become gilded cages, being far from having state-of-the-art healthcare – lack of health infrastructure, limited access to and supply of medical equipment and medicine, medical practitioners that are less experienced with life-threatening conditions, and a tradition of taking advantage of medical tourism to access better treatment in countries with a further developed healthcare system. In short, if you have a serious health condition, many countries that offer a variety of benefits from a citizenship or investment perspective are by far not ideal places to find yourself in, should the rather unpleasant situation occur that are unable to travel.

Even ordinary visa-free travel will no longer help when borders are closed. Having a residence permit or citizenship in a country that can offer sufficient level of medical services access and security will allow entering the country and benefit from superior care even with closed borders.

Alternatively, a top-notch private international health insurance will allow you to benefit from free choice of hospitals and doctors world-wide, with cover for the broadest possible range of medical services – including remotely, through various assistance services. Such health insurance policies also include support when evacuation from remote areas is required in emergency situations.

In such instances, having access to someone experienced in coordinating this process, or arranging telemedicine support with the right, and most experienced doctors worldwide, can be a life-saver. This is where the SIP Medical Family Office can offer you a new and unique service to safeguard your health, and the health of your loved ones.

International Health Insurance plans offer comprehensive medical coverage for those living or working outside of their home countries and allow to have access to the best healthcare systems around the globe, even in times of crisis. The SIP Medical Family Office facilitates direct communication with selected doctors and nursing staff from their network to ensure a prompt, effective and accurate medical treatment. This paves the way for investment migration advisors to easily offer a more complete residence/citizenship package to those who seek to secure one’s wellbeing and health in a new country.

While the world is watching and following the statistics on how countries manage to contain and eradicate new infections, it has become clear that some states have miserably failed in doing so. Only a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, the American health and medical system has come under severe strain and has partially broken down. The USA is only one amongst many other countries that have proven not to be able to manage this global health crisis sufficiently well. Medical tourists are now questioning whether the USA is still their go-to address, and so do investment migration applicants.

When a healthcare system breaks down and access to hospitals and doctors is limited to “pandemic emergency cases” only, as it has happened in many countries, it’s important to have alternatives at hand – and direct access to doctors beyond healthcare systems.

Would you still consider the American EB-5 program to be a wise choice for a safe and secure future for yourself and your kids? The latest issue of the Henley & Partners passport index has confirmed your doubt. The program has lost ground, previously ranking 6th, now ranking 7th. According to Forbes, the USA has been ranked 58 on “The 100 Safest Countries in the World for COVID-19” report, whereas Switzerland has been regarded as the safest. It may suddenly appear a much wiser idea to seek residence status in Switzerland, rather than in the USA or Spain.

However, every relocation means taking your loved ones on a new journey, and with that, exposing them to certain risks – whether socially, financially, or health related.

Knowing that the Medical Family Office by Swiss Insurance Partners will support you at all times, allows to reduce health risks while at the same time improving your quality and chances of treatment when changing residences and traveling around the world. Whatever location investors may chose as their future residence, they will have privileged “fast pass” access to visit the best doctors, their complete medical history always at hand and translated when required to avoid losing critical time in case of emergencies, and a summary of all your most relevant personal medical information in your pocket to provide doctors with overview of your health situation without any gaps, or missing information, that might be life critical.

What has become apparent at this stage is that governments need to reconsider their residence and citizenship programs to adjust to the new reality of health risks and put a more significant focus on health and access to healthcare. Attracting the most appealing investors into a country in the future will either require to develop the local healthcare system and infrastructure to be able to sustain critical events like the most recent crisis, or to seek alternative solutions that allow their citizens to be best taken care of.

Likewise, investment migration consultants will be forced to rethink how access to the best possible healthcare can be integrated into their services to differentiate from competitors. They also need to reconsider which programs are best suited for individuals and families that not only seek security and personal mobility in normal times, but health-wise in terms of crisis as well.

The SIP Medical Family Office® is a unique concept for Global Citizens that stands for 100% dedication to a person’s health. With a complete range of discrete services around health and medicine, such as Privileged Healthcare, innovative Preventive Medicine solutions or Professional Patient Guardianship, we make sure that people’s health is best taken care of around the world, which is particularly important for Global Citizens.

Author: Kevin Bürchler, Head of Key Accounts, Swiss Insurance Partners AG

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