The pandemic has changed a lot of things about the world around us. Healthcare and personal finance are arguably two of the most affected industries during this time, and the team at Argus has been providing support that is constantly evolving alongside the needs of its members.
Here we look at three ways COVID-19 has shifted consumer priorities, affecting everything from how people manage their own healthcare to how they access their personal assets.
1. Health Is Now a Top Priority
During the pandemic, non-essential healthcare services were put on the backburner. Argus members postponed many non-essential overseas procedures — some common examples being cataract and orthopedic surgeries.
Now that there are fewer travel restrictions, Bermuda’s residents may be considering booking those postponed procedures. In May and June 2021, Argus saw an uptick in the number of elective surgeries taking place now that it’s easier to book flights and cross borders.
To support your overseas healthcare needs, in partnership with the Argus-owned One Team Health (OTH), Argus offers an incredible range of Overseas Healthcare Management services. Every year, Argus members travel to many destinations — like Canada, the UK and the USA (particularly Boston, New York and Baltimore) — to access some of the world’s best doctors.
Argus’ Overseas Care Associates can help members coordinate international medical services in several ways. The goal is simple: To help members focus on their health, not logistics. OTH can organise high-quality emergency care and evacuation to top-tier medical facilities at negotiated rates, while Argus’ concierge services are on call 24/7 to help with booking plane tickets, hotels, and transportation. The services include ongoing support to maintain your health as you recover, whether that means ensuring you have the right care post-surgery with follow-up visits or even helping with provider selection and securing second opinions.
With OTH, members can access experts across the globe for a second opinion on their condition. In addition, Argus’ virtual network contains 3,000 highly specialised physicians hailing from the world’s top universities like Johns Hopkins and Massachusetts General Hospital, as well as Harvard-affiliated hospitals.
2. Accessing Financial Relief
In response to the hardship faced by many since COVID-19 began, governments around the world have introduced financial measures to assist residents, similar to the Bermuda Government’s helpful amendment to the National Pension Scheme, which saw residents in need withdraw $12,000 and $6,000 from their pension funds.
Argus is here to support this effort and has designed an easy and straightforward application process.
While taking out the funds is a personal decision, for some the need is pressing. Angela Joell, Investment and Client Education Manager at Argus Wealth Management, says, “If you are experiencing hardship, this withdrawal may be of more value to you now, removing debt and stress that could be harmful to your overall well-being.
“With no additional withdrawal fees and quick availability – within 20 business days – it might feel like a no-brainer. If you are over the age of 55, and have a high pension balance, this withdrawal will not materially alter how much you receive after retiring at 65.”
For those who would like to eventually replace the amount they withdrew — a wise move for those under 55 who stand to lose the most long-term — Argus recommends a steady approach. It is best practice to set up a regular, automatic transfer for an amount that’s realistic and manageable within your budget.
3. The Great Online Shift
The year 2020 showed us how our work lives and many essential services can easily be moved online, saving us all time and energy. Within this digital migration, few industries have evolved more than healthcare.
This trend has certainly been welcome here at Argus. In 2020, the company went live with an online claims submission service through its member portal, Vantage — find more information on its benefits here. The service has been a huge help to members, particularly during extended lockdowns, and it makes for an efficient, contactless claims process.
The company has also seen a significant increase in telehealth (or virtual) visits. One popular service is the free Argus Telenurse Advice Line service, which is staffed 24/7 by registered nurses who can respond to a myriad of issues, saving members time and stress as they can receive immediate answers to acute medical symptoms, mental health and more, and receive guidance on the appropriate level of care for their condition. In some cases, a nurse may suggest scheduling an in-person visit and, if you don’t have a GP, Argus can assist in scheduling a telehealth consult with a GP at Island Health Services.
Another growing digital trend is within the mental health sector, where Argus has seen its members book more virtual appointments, available via their Home & Office benefits. And as a way of offering mental and emotional support to the wider community, Argus sponsored a webinar series provided by the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which tackles stress, anxiety and mental health issues that have spiked since the pandemic began. After supporting in 2020, the sponsorship was extended until the end of 2021 as Argus recognised the growing need for members.
As Argus members shift and take time to support their own financial, physical, and mental health needs, Argus is here to assist.
And this focus on prioritising overall well-being? Now that’s one trend we hope is here to stay.