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Workers fear shaky job security and a lack of health coverage.

3 minute read

Being able to work away from home may be a dream come true for some Americans, but it may not be all smooth sailing for those going to another continent.

Those who are overseas fear both for their physical and financial well-being, with 53 percent saying to insurance giant Cigna that health insurance is a very important factor when it comes to being in another country for a job. But 40 percent don’t use their company health benefits, and 15 percent are uninsured.

“The results show that globally mobile individuals are more concerned than the general working population about their own health and well-being, and that of their families,” says Cigna executive Jason Sadler. “Without exception, this group is worried about the consequences of personal or family member illness; an issue compounded by a gap in health benefits provided by their employers.”

Health is important to those working overseas, but is not the only factor going into it. As a matter of fact, some feel that their job gives them less quality of life than working at home.

Finding coverage

Many who work at home feel better off about their physical life than their overseas coworkers, with a score of 62.3 for native-country workers compared to the well-being score of 61 for foreign workers. The stress of being away from family and lack of comfort are major reasons for the relative feelings of helplessness among the foreign workforce.

Even with every respondent worried about at least one illness, only 60 percent have some type of employer-based health plan. At the same time 48 percent have no group insurance whatsoever, leaving holes in their coverage that can hurt them when problems do arise.

“There is a clear need for employers to pay attention to the health and well-being of their globally mobile employees,” says Sadler. “This duty of care should extend outside of the office when employers are interacting with their families and the local community.”

What about job security and safety?

On top of fear for their health, overseas workers also feel the stress of a potential layoff.

Of those surveyed, 19 percent feel they have a major issue with their job security because they are away from home. With a lack of opportunities, including 37 percent less interviews for foreign workers by tech companies in the U.S. for 2017 compared to last year, those with jobs are fearful they will get the ax.

Those who are overseas for several years often do want to stay in their work country, though. Over half of the respondents were in the U.S. for over several years and 64 percent do want to stay.

But it’s far from a perfect fit for those who are looking to remain, especially from a safety standpoint. And 31 percent of foreign workers feel less safe over the past two years than before over 21 percent who feel more safe. Workers in the U.S. on visas felt the most unsafe, with 42 percent saying they feared for their safety.

What benefits?

So with the lack of health insurance for some workers and fear of unsafe conditions, is there any equivalent benefit of going overseas?

Forbes reported that 98 percent of Chinese workers felt working overseas gave value to their resumes that working at home didn’t. They felt opportunities overseas gave them skills they couldn’t learn anywhere else.

On top of that, there is also the desire to earn more cash. In Hong Kong, 60 percent of foreign workers felt they were earning more there than in their home country.

“International exposure is a significant draw to working overseas,” Cigna’s study says. “Globally mobile individuals highlighted the opportunity to accumulate wealth, better career prospects, good working hours and positive relationships with co-workers as bright aspects of their experience.

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About the Author

Ryan Lynch

Ryan Lynch

Lynch is a freelance writer for

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