I guess I can be other people’s nightmare if I want to be, and I am capable of being a very peculiar one.
Take MSH for instance; I had many interactions with this major medical insurance provider in China (or should I say TPA so I can sound a bit more professional?) for fairly long time. Starting from around 2010, when they “transformed” from just a bunch of people representing a small insurance company in the US (GBG/Tiecare) which specialized in the K-12 international education market. And by a successful coup, they took away a lot of clients from GBG/Tiecare then formed MSH China, a “strategic alliance” with a French company I never bothered to check its background. At that time, I worked for a large international school in Shanghai, and one of GBG’s executives flew to Shanghai to tell us the shocking news. I still remember our HR head was furious after hearing what just happened, with the clenched fist and eyebrow knit in a deep V shape, and the unfortunate GBG executive standing beside her in tears. I know this became personal since she would most certainly believe things told by a Laowai as she is one of them. And at the same time, the bad guys formed MSH were a couple, and the wife is a Chinese.
What happened next was easy, I steered away from MSH for the renewal of our multi-billion dollar policy, and Cigna-CMC was lucky enough to win us as one of the biggest scores in their early years in China. It was not because they had a fantastic product, but we simply don’t like MSH, and not many other choices we can choose from out there. I still remember during one meeting with the MSH owner whose surname is Zhang, she asked me “what exactly do you want and why don’t you say it?”, after she presented us a policy scheme for Chinese nationals with reduced benefits for cost-saving, and you can imagine this time I was not quite happy with that since she now made the Chinese side unhappy.
I have to give praise to MSH for their seemingly rapid growth in China, and they do become one of the biggest players in the so-called high-end health insurance market. But I understand they must have identity crisis all the way since MSH is no insurance company. They may have broker license but they must “invented” some unique approaches in China market, by working with some second-tier insurance companies for policies marketed under the brand of MSH, rather than using the brand of the insurance company such as China RE. I guess they take over many of the responsibilities such as underwriting and they manage their profitability and the issuer (insurance company) only get a fixed fee (with limited risk exposure). Don’t laugh at me if you know what exactly happened in these could-be complicated transactions and I am sure MSH never intended to portrait themselves in such way as I described.
That was partly the reason a few years later when I joined EARCOS conference in 2014, the most important conference and events in the circle of international schools in East Asia. During a discussion session hosted by MSH to “brainwash” many young HRs from schools all over China, my questions to the host asking the identity of MSH, what exactly the role played by them, as TPA or insurance company? The lady baffled and quickly asked her assistant to give me “whatever gift I might be interested”, ignoring the puzzled faces from other attendees. I left the room shortly after I realize the host never intended to answer my question and my appearance definitely became an awkward existence that does no good to anyone.
I should never forget to mention myself was also a long-time customer of MSH even when I changed my job to another educational institution. And I had rather satisfying experience with them over the years. One thing I need to give credit to MSH was that they are the first to deploy on-site hospital representatives in many public hospitals so their customer only need to sign to a few forms and everything else will be taken care of by the reps. On the surface, this is a nice touch on top of the direct-billing service and to me seems redundant. But I guess this is a very smart move in customer behavior management so the patient will be inclined to go to the hospital with an on-site representative and in many cases, these hospitals are relatively cheap and with better relationship with the insurer so MSH can reduce the loss-ratio of the policies.
I had another interesting encounter with MSH this week, so I decided to write this long blog after so many years of “radio silence.” The thing was simple, I was denied by MSH after my doctor at UFH prescribed treatment for my “dry eye syndrome” or “meibomian gland dysfunction” if it goes beyond layman’s term. And the treatment called IPL (intense pulsed light) which require the use of a medical device designed for treating skin problems. So apparently this gives MSH an excellent reason to deny, they said this is a typical experimental treatment and anything experimental is excluded from the policy. I called the MSH underwriter after the hospital told me the insurance company is not going to pay it. The underwriter is a young lady who seems very surprised to receive a call from an end-user asking the reason for denial. She started from a very formal tone I guess she hopes the authoritativeness it brings can work in her favor. But after I understand the reason was simply how to define such treatment and if it is indeed an “experimental” one, I started asking FDA permit on the medical device, the approved usage of it, and rationale for such categorization and what kind of data support their decision. She must be overwhelmed by waves of questions with different angles and linked with each other, so her voice became louder and impatient. I sensed the tension I felt years ago in EARCOS conference so I tried to relax her a bit by saying I didn’t call for her to change the decision but just to understand the logic of it. Finally, she repeated several times that she could email me the supporting evidence that defines IPL as one of the treatment lacking scientific proof for my dry eyes, I finally stopped probing and thanked for her time.
I did receive an email with a long paragraph full of medical terms which I don’t have time and energy to go through. But I trust her did her best in presenting the most solid evidence in showing me that I will continue to suffer from my condition even if they allowed me to go for such treatment. And I kind of know this is true since UFH is famous for their service, not their medical capabilities.
This will end my long story with MSH and my attempts to show my stubbornness or troubled mind, but I certainly enjoyed it in my life.