With their successes in the United States, U.S. health insurers should review growth opportunities overseas, specifically Asia and Europe, according to analysts at Conning Research & Consulting.

"U.S. health insurers have been successful focusing almost exclusively on the U.S. market up until now," says Sherry Manetta, analyst at Conning Research & Consulting. "However, the U.S. now accounts for 80% of the global health insurance market, while representing just 4.6% of the world's population. Looking forward, both profit pressures at home and higher growth rates overseas will drive increased multinational expansion interest among U.S. health insurers."

The firm released a study, "Global Opportunities for U.S. Health Insurers," to provide a strategic decision making framework for insurers entering or expanding in global markets. The study explores trends toward an expanded role for private health insurance in other countries, and identifies characteristics of favorable private health insurance markets.

"In reviewing growth opportunities in health insurance beyond the U.S. market, Asia and Europe represent key near-term opportunities," says Stephan Christiansen, director of research at Conning. "U.S. insurers have built and are managing the world's most complex managed health care system. With this infrastructure and expertise, U.S. insurers have the potential to emerge as front-runners of a vast global managed health care system should they decide to enter the competition already underway with Western European and Canadian multinational insurers."

A health insurer would first need to perform a market assessment, to evaluate whether a market represents a viable opportunity, Manetta tells INN. "The maturity and quality of the health care infrastructure in the country, the political and regulatory environment, the nature and scope of the public health care system and consumer demand are among the criteria that should be considered," she says. "These are just some of the factors included in the market evaluation framework outlined in our study."

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