Why did you choose a career in healthcare?
For as long as I can remember I always wanted to be a doctor; there was no other profession in my mind. My father is an oncologist, even today at 80 years old in Durango, Mexico. Part of my childhood vacations were in the corridors of the oncological hospital in Havana. I grew up seeing people with serious illnesses surrounded by people willing to help.
After starting your career in the medical sector, why did you then move into the international insurance space?
Initially, it was a circumstantial matter. I thought it would be for a short time, but once I got started, honestly, I was captivated by this other way of helping people from a different angle.
How did your medical knowledge benefit your transition into the insurance space?
My beginnings in the world of insurance were in the underwriting department, evaluating cases for acceptance, so medical knowledge was and is still very important to do that in a meaningful way. Medical knowledge allows a correct evaluation of the cases in the event of a medical claim in order to correctly apply the contracted benefits and protect the client in the immediate term and the company in the long term.
You have recently joined Trawick International Latin America (LatAm) as its Medical Director. Can you tell us what your role entails?
There are two main functions of a Medical Director. The first is underwriting, where I oversee the underwriting process, evaluate the medical risk associated with insurance applications, and establish and update underwriting guidelines as new medical research and treatments are developed. The latter is important because many diseases that were uninsurable become insurable, even if with restrictions, and keeping up with that allows us to adjust our policies to the benefit of everyone involved. I also conduct medical research and analysis to assess the effectiveness of underwriting policies, identify medical trends or patterns, and provide recommendations for improving risk assessment processes, among other functions.
The second function is being part of the medical team and precertification process. I provide guidance, training, and support to ensure efficient workflow and accuracy in the evaluation of precertification requests and authorisation of the services needed by members under the policy benefits. I implement and enhance medical precertification processes, ensuring adherence to best practices and compliance with internal regulations and policies. This includes establishing clear guidelines and criteria for evaluating requests and making proper decisions, staying updated on policy and regulatory changes, and ensuring that precertification decisions are in line with ethical and legal standards.
The LatAm division of Trawick was only launched last year. Why was LatAm an important market to bring travel and medical insurance to?
In recent years, the rising costs of private medical insurance in LatAm have been a challenge for the market. We saw the opportunity for a new product that allows for a sustainable pricing model and empowers customers with the flexibility to adjust their benefits and premiums to their specific needs.
The rising costs of private medical insurance in LatAm have been a challenge for the market
Plan VIVA from Trawick International is the first modular international private medical insurance (IPMI) product in the region that allows customers to select certain key benefits, USA networks, and deductibles, according to their preferences and budgets. Plan VIVA is also the only product in the market offering customers a good health discount on their annual premiums by meeting certain healthy metrics. The product also emphasises the importance of preventative screenings, which is aligned with the growing awareness throughout the region of the importance of taking a proactive approach to your health. The uniqueness of this product made the decision to enter the LatAm market a key initiative for Trawick International.
Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is one of the most significant traditions in Mexico. With more people visiting during late October and early November for the festivities, what is your advice to travellers, and insurers, for staying safe and well?
It’s crucial to provide coverage for travellers that includes medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, and trip cancellation/interruption for unforeseen circumstances. Insurers should ensure that their policies cover events like Día de los Muertos and the associated risks. They should also communicate clearly about the benefits, any exclusions or limitations related to the festival period.
Travellers, be aware of your surroundings; it’s important to stay vigilant. Keep an eye on your belongings, avoid displaying expensive items, and be cautious of pickpockets in crowded areas. Stay close to your travel companions and avoid isolated or poorly lit areas, especially at night. Follow local customs and respect the traditions associated with Día de los Muertos. Familiarise yourself with the cultural significance of the event and follow any guidelines or restrictions imposed by the local authorities. Stay hydrated and maintain personal hygiene. Stay updated with travel advisories and news about the local situation. Monitor any potential safety risks, protests or demonstrations that may coincide with Día de los Muertos to take your own precautions.
What new technology has Trawick embraced in the healthcare sphere and how is it helping your customers?
Trawick has invested and focused on the technology platforms to ensure that our customers have access to real-time data and communications. Although it is not new technology, it is the right technology that allows non-US-based customers to receive immediate alerts to their mobile devices. We utilise custom messaging software for international customers and a portal to facilitate policy access and customer-specific tools at the click of a button. Trawick values and prioritises our customers’ experience and knows that communication is a key factor in optimising the customer experience 24/7.
Our main goal is to be just a click or a call away through our VIVA assistance programme when there is a catastrophic medical event
What are your hopes and expectations for the healthcare and medical insurance sectors in LatAm?
Our greatest interest is to bring our insureds closer to the most innovative medical services by facilitating access to prestigious worldwide medical centres and creating and keeping the best relationships in hospitals of renowned quality in Latin America. We want to help our insureds maximise the benefits available to help with family finances indirectly, but our main goal is to be just a click or a call away through our VIVA assistance programme when there is a catastrophic medical event, which is when the presence of international medical insurance is most needed.