Explore the insights from MetLife's Latin America Employee Benefits Trends Study and learn more about how global corporations and employees view their benefits plans.

Expatriate Healthcare Plans

What's the best approach to providing benefits to expatriates?

With globally mobile workforces estimated to grow at more than 10% a year and a sizable investment made for each expatriate assignment, the question of best practices in plan design is increasingly critical.1

While expatriate-specific healthcare plans are becoming more popular, a slight majority of employers (55%) surveyed still maintained expatriates on home country healthcare plans. We spoke to employers with more than 10,000 employees based across the globe to find out who opts for an expatriate-specific plan – what do they look like?

We found employers with expat specific plans tend to be more committed to benefits as a talent strategy, seeking relevant plans for their diverse populations. Yet they are still focused on managing costs.


A critical talent competitive edge


Companies that deploy separate expatriate healthcare plans are more likely to see medical benefits as extremely important in competing for and retaining talent.

"How important is enabling our company to compete for and retain employee talent as a reason for offering medical insurance benefits to employees?"

Yes, this is extremely important.

Expat Plan

No Expat Plan

Consistently, companies showed more commitment to continuing to offer health coverage, as noted when asked about their commitment in the face of the Affordable Care Act.

"What is your company's level of commitment to offer health insurance coverage to your employees in the foreseeable future?"

We have a strong level of commitment.

Expat Plan

No Expat Plan

Building Loyalty with Customized Plans

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Companies with separate expatriate healthcare plans also see employees as having diverse needs. Given the importance that these companies place on benefits, they see value in creating plans to meet the unique needs of different workforce segments.

"Offering multiple benefits options to meet employees' diverse needs increases employee loyalty."

We have a strong level of agreement.

Expat Plan

No Expat Plan

Seeking Smart Design Strategies to Manage Costs

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Of course, these companies also are cost-conscious. Compared to employers who do not utilize expatriate-specific plans, they place more importance on using plan design as a way to manage cost.

"In your company, how important is optimizing benefits plan designs to reduce benefit costs?"

Expat Plan

No Expat Plan

Providing separate expatriate healthcare plans can create benefits for both employers and employees. Learn more about the value of these plans and insights to determine the best options in our Insights to Go and Solutions.

The Voluntary Benefits Gap

Conditions are ripe for broader access to voluntary benefits in Latin America

Consumer needs are more diverse today than ever before. Some economies around the globe have boomed, and others have stalled. A young middle class is growing in some regions, while employees are close to retirement in many. But consistently, the financial needs of the "family unit" are changing. Has access to voluntary benefit packages adjusted to reflect these shifts?

In recent years, voluntary benefits in the United States have become a more important way to address diverse employee needs. In the 11th Annual US Study of Employee Benefits, 72% of employers with 500+ employees considered voluntary benefits an important part of their benefits strategy, up dramatically from 43% since 2013.

Do voluntary benefits play the same role outside the US? Not yet: 46% of global decision makers say either no voluntary benefits are offered or they are offered less than in the US. But appears likely to change — at least in Latin American countries — based on insights from our Latin America Employee Benefits Trends Study. Employers interested in voluntary benefits and employees in the studied markets (Brazil, Chile, and Mexico) are still looking for more workplace solutions to help improve their financial security.

Heightened Financial Awareness

The emerging middle class in the three Latin American countries researched are very aware of their financial vulnerability. 73% of employees said they were "extremely" or "very concerned" about their ability to pay basic expenses in the event of a sudden income loss. A sizable number are eager to access financial resources through the workplace to improve their financial acumen and security.

Very Interested in Access to Financial Planners to Help Make Decisions about Financial Needs (Latin American average)


Very Interested in a Wider Voluntary Benefits Menu (Latin American average)

Discipline and Convenience

Employees desire a simple route to ensure financial preparedness. Of the nine possibilities offered, the top reasons across all markets were related to financial discipline and convenience.







Payroll deduction helps me to be more disciplined about saving.
Ranked in the TOP 3 reasons by:
Payroll deduction is a convenient way for me to make payments.
Ranked in the TOP 3 reasons by:
It is more convenient than shopping for these products on my own.
Ranked in the TOP 3 reasons by:
It offers better/group rates.
Ranked in the TOP 3 reasons by:
I can sign up for insurance without having to go through a medical exam.
Ranked in the TOP 3 reasons by:
It saves me time to buy voluntary products through the workplace.
Ranked in the TOP 3 reasons by:

Disconnected Efforts

A Wider Array of Voluntary Benefits Offerings is of High Importance

While not quite as high as in the US, Latin American employers are showing an interest in voluntary benefits.

There are signs that employees are not offered or don't understand how to take advantage of the benefits offered.
Employees (Mexico):
My Company Offers Additional Insurance Policies

In Mexico for example, very few employees said their company offers additional insurance policies in addition to those granted by law.

Employees (Brazil):
My Company Effectively Communicates on Benefits

In Brazil, only a small group is in strong agreement that their company's communications effectively educated them on benefits options so they could select the options that best meet their needs.

Considering our survey results, it appears there is a genuine gap between what people want and what is available and understood. Voluntary benefits can be an affordable way to better meet needs and build loyalty. Our Insights to Go and Solutions offer more details on this, along with steps to help bridge this gap.

Wellness Program Usage

Should multinationals invest more in wellness outside the US?

Wellness programs offer more than just an employer/employee "feel good" factor. In fact, for a growing number of companies these programs are considered a critical business advantage.

Many companies based in locations such as the US, the UK and the Netherlands offer robust wellness programs. On the other hand, wellness programs for many multinationals operating in emerging markets such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico are much less developed. Are companies operating in these Latin American countries missing an opportunity to make the most of their workforce and manage their health care costs?

How do wellness programs offered to employees working outside the US, including expatriates, compare with those offered to your US employees?

Our Latin America Employee Benefits Trends Study takes a look at the prevalence of wellness programs in Brazil, Chile and Mexico and provides some valuable insights on why these programs are currently less developed.

Why aren’t some businesses outside the US seriously investing in wellness programs?

Is it because healthcare costs outside the US are less of a business concern?

Select your answer and see if you are correct.


yes. Employers inside and outside the US are looking at ways to reduce health care costs. Of the employers we spoke to, controlling health and welfare benefit costs was either a "very" or "extremely" important employee benefits program driver.

Percent of companies who report controlling health and welfare benefit costs as very or extremely important.

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In fact, from our Latin America Employee Benefits Trends Study we know that this figure has increased in both Mexico and Brazil, highlighting that not only is the concern real, but also one that seems to have growing importance.

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Is it because wellness programming has low perceived value?

Overall, in the ongoing war for talent, having the right mix of benefit is certainly one critical strategy to attract and retain talent.

Employees in Brazil, Chile and Mexico who said the benefits offered to them were a very important reason why they chose:

To work for their current employer

To remain with their current employer

It’s difficult to assess how employees value wellness programs directly from this study, as the number of wellness programs in Latin America is relatively low. But, in a previous study, we saw a positive relationship in both developed and emerging markets, including Brazil and Mexico, between employee satisfaction with health and wellness benefits and outcomes like employee engagement and organizational commitment – suggesting wellness does matter to employees.2

Intuitively, Latin American employers appear to understand this. When we asked employers how valuable they found these programs, their response was positive.

Percent of employers in these countries who rated Health & Wellness programs to be extremely or very valuable:

Perhaps the relatively low presence of Latin American wellness programs can be attributed to other factors, like culture, cost, or very likely, too many priorities. The interest and need is clearly there, and something is better than nothing.

Starting with a simple, low-cost wellness program means you can start to make changes today. Find out more about the value of wellness and how to get a wellness program off the ground in our Insights to Go and Solutions.

1 Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy: "A Multi-Employer Study"; R. Loeppke et al; Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Vol, 51, No. 4: April 2009