Common mistakes made when selecting corporate health insurance

Corporate health insurance image

When it comes to implementing a benefits and wellness solution into your company you will quickly find that there are a near infinite number of things you can implement. One of the most important however is health insurance. Health insurance is easily one of the most in-demand benefits in Asia and does indeed form the cornerstone of the most successful wellness plans. The problem is, with so many plans available how can you identify and secure one that will not only support your wellness program but also be one your employees will use?

One way is to look at what other companies have done, the mistakes that have been made, and to learn from them. Here, we take a look at the 5 most common mistakes companies make when implementing corporate health insurance and what you can do to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Not selecting the right type of coverage

In Singapore most companies will consider two types of health insurance plans for their employees:

  • Local plans – Designed to provide coverage on a local basis, meaning only within Singapore.
  • International plans – Designed to provide coverage on an international basis.

There are a number of similarities between the plans namely, they both provide coverage in Singapore and will both cover some of all of the cost of medical care. The main difference is that international plans tend to provide more coverage and higher limits meaning they will more adequately cover the cost of medical care in Singapore.

The mistake companies commonly make here is that they select the wrong level of coverage for their employees. For example, if your company has offices outside of Singapore and your employees frequently travel to these offices, securing a local health insurance plan leaves these employees uninsured when they are out of Singapore.

If they were to get sick or require medical attention in another country, their medical bills will not be covered, forcing the employee to pay for the care out of their own pocket.  

One of the most common ways companies avoid this is by grouping employees together into different tiers. For example, employees who do not travel will be grouped together and receive local health insurance coverage, while those who travel for work will receive international coverage.

Mistake 2: Assuming pre-existing conditions are covered

In the past, medium to large group health insurance schemes have had what insurers refer to as a medical history disregard (MHD). This means that employees who join the scheme will receive coverage regardless of their existing medical conditions. In other words, many pre-existing conditions will be covered unless the insurer attaches specific exclusions in their policy documents.

Compare this with individual plans where most insurers will not provide coverage for people who have had, or have pre-existing diseases or medical conditions e.g., cancer, or diabetes.

The mistake some companies have made here is assuming that just because a group health insurance plan is secured it will have a MHD clause included. In fact, MHD is usually not available on smaller group plans (under 10-20 people). This means that it is incredibly important to review any terms and conditions, and coverage documentation of plans you are considering to see whether MHD is included or not.

As a word of warning: If you do want to include an MHD on your plan you might have to negotiate with the insurer as including it in your plan could result in a higher premium.

Mistake 3: Not fully understanding the plan’s eligibility requirements

Many insurers in Singapore, and indeed around the world, will have specific eligibility requirements for their corporate health insurance plans. The most common requirement is what’s referred to as compulsory membership.

This is a clause that states that when implementing a policy, all employees of a certain level must join the scheme. How it works is that if you are say implementing a group insurance plan for your mid-level employees, the insurer will ask that all employees of this level be enrolled in the plan.

The mistake made by some group health insurance managers is that they don’t fully understand how this works, or that it is included in the policy. When looking at policies it is important to ask the insurer if they have compulsory membership and the details around it. With many insurers it is possible to negotiate and define this clause, which is useful if you plan on implementing different levels of coverage for your employees e.g., senior managers receive international coverage while entry level employees get local coverage.

The key thing to be aware of here is that if a new employee joins the company, or is promoted, they will be required to also join the policy (usually after probation has passed).

Mistake 4: Not involving your employees in the selection process

One of the similarities all of the most successful wellness plans share is the fact that the employees view it to be valuable to them and actually utilize the various elements offered by the wellness plan. When it comes to health insurance, if your employees aren’t utilizing the coverage you are providing, there is a good chance that you are not going to see a positive return on your investment, or could even see a loss.

An effective way you can ensure your employees actually view the corporate health insurance coverage you are selecting as valuable is to actually talk with them during the selection process. Take the time to ask them what types of coverage they believe to be valuable and would prefer having.

Doing this can in turn help to not only set expectations but also identify the most important things the plan you implement should cover. From there, you can then start to look at plans that meet your needs.

With staff involved during the whole process your company should also be able to benefit from increased buy-in, and see a reduction in the time needed to manage the plan. After all, if your employees know from the start how the plan works, there will be fewer questions and concerns down the line.  

Mistake 5: Selecting the cheapest option

One thing to be aware of is that group health insurance plans aren’t cheap. When you start looking at the different plans available you will quickly come to find that this is a serious investment. In some cases, the actual amount you will need to spend can be somewhat shocking.

Many companies that see a higher price will be tempted to strive to secure the cheapest option available. The problem here is that while the plan might be cheap, there are other factors to consider including the level of service offered by the insurer, the speed at which they will reimburse claims, the network the insurer has in place, etc.

Yes, you may have saved money on the premium, but if your insurer does not answer your questions, refuses claims, draws out the claims process, and so on, this would inevitably end up costing you a lot more than other plans in the long run. This is especially true if your employees are not actually using the plan.

Beyond that, many of the cheaper health insurance plans will offer lower coverage limits and include more exclusions which could make the plan harder to use. Not to mention the fact that some cheaper policies do not include wellness benefits e.g., health checks, that are quickly becoming the most demanded parts of health insurance. Implementing these will inevitably result in higher costs for you, costs which could be much more than just going with a plan that offered them from the beginning.  

How can you avoid these mistakes?

Implementing a health insurance plan in your company can be a time-consuming process, one that can very easily turn into more of a nuisance than a boon. In order to avoid this, we suggest working with a broker like Pacific Prime Singapore.

As a specialist in employee benefits solutions we work with companies like yours to identify your coverage needs, select a plan, and can even manage the plan from start to finish. If you are looking for a corporate health insurance or wellness solution, contact us today to learn more about how we can help.  

New Ministry of Health initiatives announced in Singapore’s 2017 Budget

singapore health initiatives budget 2017

Minister of Health Gan Kim Yong announced on Thursday (March 9) a number of health initiatives that the ministry would be looking to spend part of its SGD 10.7 billion budget on. During the Parliament’s Committee of Supply debate, Yong explained that the ministry would be focusing beyond healthcare to health, beyond hospital to community, and beyond quality to value.

The way they’ll get Singapore’s healthcare system from its current state to the desired one is through a number of new health initiatives aimed at helping people live healthier lives, while making healthier choices easier. An article from the Straits Times has highlighted seven actions that people should know about from the debate.

1. Inexpensive health screenings

Beginning in September this year, eligible persons will be able to pay SGD 5 or less for health screenings. These screenings will look for diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and colorectal and cervical cancers. CHAS cardholders will pay even less (2 SGD), while the Pioneer Generation will have access to free health screenings. Subsidies will also be provided for high risk 18 to 30 year olds.

2. Smoking age to be raised from 18 to 21

The Ministry of Health is also aiming to propose legislative change in the next year, calling on Parliament to raise the legal tobacco purchasing age from 18 years old to 21. 45% of tobacco users in Singapore began smoking regularly between the ages of 18 and 21, so raising the age aims to reduce the number of smokers in general.

3. Greater focus on providing healthier food options

The Ministry’s Healthier Ingredient Development Scheme will be introduced in July to encourage healthier ingredient use by those in the food industry. It will provide funding support for manufacturers to develop healthier products, such as by using whole grains and healthier cooking oils. The public sector itself will also shift to adopt better, healthier catering options for all events and training courses.

4. Boosting healthcare staff numbers

With the number of health staff numbers being a real concern for many countries around the world, Singapore’s government has plans to increase their numbers by 9,000. This is said to mean approximately 2,700 nurses, 4,500 support staff and 1,800 professionals, managers, executives and technicians. Community care nurse numbers are also expected to rise as the Ministry of Health invests SGD 24 million into staffing.

5. Boosts for mental health

Mental health is also set to get a bump in support with frontline staff from government agencies being trained to spot and respond to community mental health cases.  More than 130 social service agencies, including the police, will be trained to support people with mental health concerns. Polyclinics will also be provided with funding to provide more mental health services.

6. Encouraging GPs to join Primary Care Networks

Budget 2017 will also introduce a new scheme to help general practitioners manage patients with chronic medical conditions better. Joining a primary care network, GPs will be included in a virtual group that will allow doctors to pool resources together. With the supported capacity, patients with conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol will be able to be monitored better to ensure the best care decisions are made.  

7. New family clinics and polyclinics

There are two new family medicine clinics opening this year; one in Keat Hong and the other in Tampines. The government is also opening polyclinics in Jurong West and Punggol in 2017, while three new ones in Bukit Panjang, Eunos and Sembawang will be operational by 2020. Minister of State for Health, Lam Pin Min, also made the announcement that a polyclinic in the Kallang/Balestier area is also planned.

Supporting health initiatives with quality medical insurance coverage

These new government and ministry-announced health initiatives are great news for Singaporeans, however many expats will only benefit from a few of the actions. Increased staffing numbers are great for everyone, meaning there should be shorter wait times and greater choice for physicians. It should be noted that these actions are also only announced intentions, meaning that the parliament will still need to pass legislation before the Ministry can begin work, such as the laws required for increasing the smoking age.

Expats in Singapore can fill the gaps in government provided and subsidized healthcare that their status restricts them from by securing adequate private medical insurance. Pacific Prime Singapore has served many clients in the past 15 years with solid, affordable health coverage both here and abroad. If you’d like to know more about making your healthcare options more comprehensive, contact the advisers at Pacific Prime Singapore today!

Pacific Prime becomes a Cigna Priority Partner

Cigna Priority Partner doctor and woman

We’re quite proud of being a trusted insurance broker in the eyes of both clients and industry partners. In the past 15 years, Pacific Prime has worked hard to ensure that our brand is one that’s valued for its commitment and drive towards simplifying health insurance. Recently, long standing partner Cigna has given a boost to the way we can support our clients by recognising us as one of their Cigna Priority Partner Service members.

What is the Cigna Priority Partner Service?

To better support some of its top insurance partners, Cigna has developed the Priority Partner Service after some thorough consultation with the industry. Their commitment is to better support brokers, like Pacific Prime, in order for us to better serve you. Our clients with Cigna plans will now be able to take advantage of a number of service enhancements that can make insurance matters even faster.

What service enhancements can you expect?

As a Cigna Priority Partner, the major service enhancements include the following:

Claims Icon Claims status information will be more accurate and informative for clients going forward. This means that Pacific Prime will be able to quickly access details on how far your claim has been processed, or whether there is more information needed to progress the claim.
 Welcome Packs Icon Welcome packs new Cigna clients brokered by Pacific Prime will receive their policy documents within 7 days of a policy’s purchase. Pacific Prime will have access to a report containing the UPS tracking numbers for every welcome pack sent and have them sent on to you immediately.

With Pacific Prime being your dedicated point of contact, we’ll have a priority communication line with Cigna to handle any queries you might have regarding claims made or your welcome packs.

As a Cigna Priority Partner, we get prioritized assistance to better help you.

What service delivery outcomes come with a Cigna Priority Partner Service?

Along with the service enhancements, Cigna has made the following commitment to its Priority Partners to help us make your insurance experience as quick and painless as possible:

 Underwriting Quote

Underwriting quotes
will have a turnaround of within 1 day for clean applications.

Guarantee of Payment
100% will be issued within an hour of it being approved.

 Guarantee of Payment
 Policy Changes

Policy changes
Mid-term adjustments can be processed within 1 day of the request being made.

Because Cigna can trust us to make the claims and insurance process easier for them, we’ll be able to guarantee these Cigna commitments to Pacific Prime clients as a Priority Partner.

Unique Features of Cigna Plans

The Cigna Global Health Assist service is a unique program designed to provide customers with a comprehensive medical support team. Doctors and nurses from Cigna’s Clinical Team will contact customers suffering from pre-existing conditions or serious illnesses to confirm a personalised and dedicated point of contact where you can receive:

  • A second medical opinion
  • Medical network/preferred provider information
  • Hospital visits and health care system navigation support
  • Detailed coverage information
  • Personalised support and case management

The benefits of this extra mile service is to help customers get medical clarification, or simple reassurance at what can sometimes be challenging time. When your treatment is more complex, nurses from Cigna’s Clinical Team can act as case managers in providing clinical guidance and advice. In some cases, the nurse can act as your dedicated point of contact throughout the treatment process.

What does this mean for me?

The simple answer is: dealing with insurance matters just got faster and easier! New Pacific Prime clients who choose Cigna plan’s will have access to all of this from the very start. Our expert advisors can answer any and all questions you might have related to general insurance matters to more specific topics, such as how to file a claim under a Cigna policy.

Those of you who are already Pacific Prime clients with a Cigna plan will not have to do anything; the benefits of the Cigna Priority Partner Service are already in place for you. What you will notice is, that when it comes to claims, renewals and just general enquiries, your service has just become a lot faster.

With Pacific Prime as your first point of contact, the Cigna Priority Partner Service gives us a greater ability to support our Cigna clients, as well as track and process their insurance claims. It builds on Cigna’s already well proven track record for excellent service, while boosting our ability to handle your insurance needs with less hassle. This development reinforces Pacific Prime and Cigna’s commitment to quality medical coverage.

Those of you who aren’t Cigna clients will still enjoy the complete Pacific Prime client service. This development won’t take away from those of you insured by other companies. If you’re interested in what Cigna has to offer, or you’re uninsured and looking for excellent coverage, give our advisers a call today!

Corporate insurance: What is it?

corporate insurance man reading paper

Just as laptops and smartphones are to business, so is corporate insurance to modern employment packages. It seems almost a given in today’s job market that the best, most attractive companies to work for are those that offer more than just a paycheck. Those companies who care about the well being of their employees are often seen as the most desirable employers to high quality candidates.

We all seem to know that Google office’s amenities – with their wacky themed office spaces, indoor slides and cosy nap areas – are some of the bigger, more extravagant things a job seeker can hope for. What is now a common expectation, however, is that a remuneration package comes with employer provided health insurance. What is corporate insurance, however, and what can it do?

Group insurance solutions

Corporate insurance, or group insurance, is basically a type of insurance in which a single contract will cover a specified group of people. For employer provided group health insurance plans, the policy owner will be the employer while the employees make up the “members” of the group. Just like bulk buying anything, purchasing a group insurance plan is generally cheaper than what an individual plan might cost a plan member.

Purchasing corporate insurance allows members to access a number of health insurance coverage benefits. Depending on what the policyholder (the employer) chooses to pay for, group insurance solutions can be very comprehensive and valuable. Offering health insurance with an employment package can often be a less costly incentive as the risk spread over a large group delivers reduced premium costs.

Here’s a few details on the benefits you can include in a corporate insurance plan:

  • Supplementary Health: Provides basic healthcare cover for inpatient and sometimes outpatient care when needed.
  • Wellness: Wellness programs are a popular preventative benefit that helps bolster the day-to-day health of your employees, reducing the need for reactive care.
  • Dental: Oral health is an important but often overlooked part of life, even for some individual plans. Providing dental coverage can make your employment package more attractive than your competitors’.
  • Life and long-term disability insurance: Protecting the well being of not just your employees, but also their family, can also promote your company as one that cares personally for their staff. Life and long-term disability insurance ensures that support is there in the event something serious happens to your employee.

Selecting the right plan for your company and its staff really depends on what your needs are, and what your budget is.

What’s the benefit of a corporate insurance plan?

Of course, many companies still do not offer any form of health insurance coverage for their employees. This may be because local healthcare options are well subsidized by the government, or because the cost of providing insurance outweighs the benefit of their workforce. However, if you’re a company looking to secure the best talent for your business, here’s five reasons to think about purchasing a group insurance plan:

  • Make your company a more attractive employer: Highly skilled and sought after candidates will judge your offer of employment on more than just salary. Offering a good employer provided health care plan will increase your appeal to potential candidates and make your negotiating power higher than your competitors.
  • Reduce turnover: A low staff turnover rate is essential to ensuring your business runs without interruption. Staff retention is also important for growing a team of senior leaders within your company, so providing healthcare benefits shows you value their contribution and wish to see them stay with you long term.
  • Improve company morale: Having a reduced turnover rate is a good indicator that your employees really do love being employed by your company. When an employer can help ease personal stresses, employees will begin to value their jobs more and, with people being loss averse, the idea of leaving and risking not having insurance can help keep your staff on board.
  • Get a healthier workforce: Healthy staff are often absent less, and the ability for staff to take sick leave and see a doctor means your staff can have their ailments seen to right away. As a side note, an appropriate and honest sick leave policy can also help make sure your staff don’t infect each other by trying to work while ill.
  • Have a more productive staff: Happy and healthy staff are more productive.

Whilst the cost of providing a corporate insurance plan is a monetary one, the intangible benefits your company stands to gain from offering one as part of an employment package can be a lot more than what you spend. If you’ve never considered purchasing group health insurance, or you’re worried your current group plan isn’t keeping up with your industry peers, it’s worth contacting a broker to learn more.

Pacific Prime Singapore: Your corporate insurance expert

Our expert corporate team at Pacific Prime Singapore have almost 20 years experience in delivering solid group insurance solutions for businesses big and small. Their unique approach to policy brokering has meant that more than 3,000 clients worldwide have been able to provide tens of thousands of employees and their families with comprehensive health care coverage.

Whether you’re a small business, start up, or multinational corporation, our corporate team is well placed across six different global offices to advise, propose and deliver a group insurance plan that meets the needs of your company and staff. We can find you your first corporate insurance plan, or we can help you find a better, more comprehensive deal if you already have one.
To find out how Pacific Prime Singapore can help you invest in your staff and attract the best new talent, contact our advisers today!

Taking a look at vision insurance in Singapore

Pacific Prime vision insurance blog post

People these days are spending a great deal of time indoors, with their eyes constantly glued to their tablet devices and computer screens. This lifestyle trend in part helps explain the surge in vision conditions worldwide. This is especially true for myopia (short-sightedness), which is due to affect 5 million Singaporeans by 2050 – 15% of which will have an eye prescription above 500 degrees.

Singapore’s Asian counterparts have also been found to be heading towards a myopia epidemic. For example, 81% of teenagers in China have myopia, and 95% of school leavers in Taiwan require glasses to see into the distance. As such, the importance of maintaining eye health has been increasingly put into the spotlight. 

One of the key ways of ensuring good eye health is to have regular eye exams. There is no set price charged for eye tests, but some opticians in Singapore do charge a pretty penny, especially for more comprehensive eye checks.

Although more thorough eye tests can be costly, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to go beyond simply checking how well you can see so that early signs of more serious conditions such as glaucoma and cataracts are detected early. Fortunately, vision insurance can be a great way to cover the expensive costs associated with optical care.

The high cost of vision treatment in Singapore

Ranked as the most expensive city for expats, it’s not hard to see why healthcare costs are so high in the city, especially for the majority of expats that don’t have access to the Medisave social security system available to the city-state’s permanent residents and citizens. While you can find fairly affordable basic eye exams in Singapore, more comprehensive tests can cost a fair bit.

As can be expected, more extensive vision treatment such as eye surgeries will cost a lot more than eye tests or buying a new pair of corrective glasses. For example, LASIK surgery at a private hospital can charge up to SGD 4,820, and glaucoma surgery can cost up to SGD 6,693. Feel free to refer to the Ministry of Health website for further information on costs.

While these fees certainly are expensive, those who have secured vision insurance are able to offset some of its associated costs without breaking the bank.

An overview of how vision insurance works

Usually, people secure vision insurance as a supplementary benefit to make up for the gaps in coverage in their standard private health insurance plan. This add-on benefit, commonly referred to by insurers as a ‘rider’, will come with its own additional premium, the cost of which will depend on the plan you select and how comprehensive the benefits offered are.

If you choose to include coverage for your spouse or children, the average cost you pay per person often works out to be a bit less than the rate charged for an individual plan. Some insurers also offer standalone plans that feature mostly vision benefits, so it’s best to shop around to find which option suits you and/or your family best.

What’s normally covered?

Those who secure vision insurance can expect coverage for routine eye check-ups, frames, and contact lenses. These will be covered up to a maximum amount, and some plans will also impose a co-pay system, whereby there will be an amount that you will need to pay for accessing every optical service covered by the plan.

More comprehensive vision plans will also provide coverage for eye disorders and eye surgeries deemed medically necessary. Elective surgeries like LASIK are generally not covered, although many plans offer discounts for these types of procedures, so you’ll be able to pay a lower rate. You may also receive discounts for upgrades on frame lenses, e.g. anti-reflective coating.

Things to consider when choosing a vision insurance plan

Many people make the mistake of thinking that they are covered for everything, just because they have health insurance. All plans are different, and some plans offer a more comprehensive list of benefits than others.

This is why it’s essential to be familiar with the policy wording on your plan, and be aware of any caveats or exclusions. It can also help to talk to a broker like Pacific Prime Singapore if you’re still unsure about your plan’s limitations.

To help you find the best-fitting plan for your needs, here are a few questions you may want to ask when finding a plan:

Is there a preferred network of providers?

A preferred network of providers refers to the facilities that are contracted with your plan. If the answer to the question is yes, then it’s a good idea to check if the optometrist or ophthalmologist that you visit regularly is included in the network, as your claim will likely be rejected out right if you chose a facility outside of the plan’s network.

What’s the benefit period?

Vision insurance runs on a rolling cycle. What this means is that certain benefits can only be accessed once per a certain duration of time, i.e. one eye check every 12 months. However, the benefit period on some plans can be as long as 24 months. To ensure you get your money’s worth, be sure to access the benefits covered before the next benefit period begins.

Does the vision plan have a waiting period?

To prevent people from having an expensive procedure right after they have secured insurance, some insurers will impose a waiting period on plans. The waiting period, which usually lasts anywhere between 1 month to 24 months, is the time you will need to wait once you have purchased your plan before you are eligible for claiming any benefits.

Everyone’s vision needs are different, and there are no one-size-fits-all plans out there. That is why it often pays to have an expert’s opinion by getting in touch with an established broker like Pacific Prime Singapore so that you get the best value plan for your needs.

The ins and outs of dental insurance in Singapore

dental insurance singapore

They start off as temporary but by the time we’re adults our teeth will be the only ones we get. We depend on them for a lot; they help us eat, speak, and make our smiles look good. The fact that we can’t grown new adult teeth, however, means we should definitely prioritize their care. Dentist visits can be very expensive, even in Singapore, so we’d recommend securing some form of dental insurance while you’re there.

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Traditional Chinese Medicine: The benefits, risks and will insurance cover it?

traditional chinese medicine

Commonly shortened to TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine encompasses a wide range of traditional practices that have existed and been developed in China for more than 5,000 years. Based on the philosophy of Taoism, it views the human body differently to Western medicine practices and aims to achieve harmony and balance while promoting moderation and prevention.

The most common and widely known TCM therapies include acupuncture and traditional herbal medicines, while other features include mind-body, dietary, and massage therapies. While the West believe research into TCM’s effectiveness is generally inconclusive, many generations of people in Asia have grown up with it as their main source of healthcare and believe in its healing practices.

In Singapore, you can find TCM practitioners to treat a range of injuries, illnesses or for general health and wellbeing maintenance. We’ll be going through some basics of TCM for those of you new to Traditional Chinese Medicine, or if you’ve simply got questions about whether TCM might be covered by your insurance.

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

In Singapore, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act requires that all TCM practitioners be registered and must hold a valid practicing certificate. TCM itself has four key principles:

  • Your body is an integrated whole
  • You are completely connected to nature
  • You were born with a natural self-healing ability
  • Prevention is the best cure

Its practices include acupuncture, herbal medicines, moxibustion, tui na, Qigong, and other therapies including cupping, gua sha, die-da and Chinese food therapy. For more information on what these practices entail, take a look at our main site’s page on Traditional Chinese Medicine in Singapore.

Benefits of TCM

One of the biggest draws of TCM for many people is that it is all natural. Medicine uses natural, unprocessed plants and herbs such as ginseng, mushrooms and ginko, to various other materials such as deer velvet, dried snakes and human placenta. People concerned about the processed chemicals of Western medicine may find comfort in TCM’s use of traditional raw ingredients for medicinal use.

Traditional Chinese Medicine also has a more holistic approach to healing with its four key principles guiding that treating more than symptoms is important for wellbeing. It’s not uncommon for a TCM practitioner to give both symptomatic attention through acupuncture therapy, some dietary advice, and some herbal medicine in order to treat the whole body and not just your ailment.

Risks of TCM

Of course, the effectiveness of Traditional Chinese Medicine is still largely contested in a Western academic sense. The current state of research mostly focuses on specific types of treatments such as acupuncture, Qigong and moxibustion, but never on the whole system of TCM. For traditional medicines, many countries in the West will classify Chinese-derived medicines as “dietary supplements” to separate their recognition from Western medicine.

Countries like Singapore have strong regulatory bodies set up in order to provide certification for practitioners, granting those seeking Traditional Chinese Medicine practices a bit more confidence in who they trust with their health. This is a positive for both patients and practitioners as it allows those with safe practices to continue to heal their clients, whilst maintaining their integrity as professionals.

Recently, a Straits Times article issued a warning about the dangers of using traditional medicines and cures from potentially unregistered TCM practitioners. The article included a story of a Singaporean retiree and his daughter hospitalised with drug-induced liver injury. The pair had taken Snake Powder Capsules to treat skin problems and generally increase health.

Choosing a TCM approach: Will my insurance cover it?

Insurance generally focuses on Western approaches to medicine, however many insurers have policies that will cover Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. As insurance brokers, we can’t give you medical advice on which type of treatment might be best – that’s a decision you will have to make for yourself.

What Pacific Prime Singapore can do, however, is provide you with insurance solutions that will allow you to have either Western or TCM treatment options available to you should you choose it. If you’re unsure if your current policy covers Traditional Chinese Medicine or you’re looking for a policy that can, don’t hesitate to call our expert advisors today!

Happy Chinese New Year from Pacific Prime Singapore

Chinese New Year Fireworks

The new Lunar New Year is upon us! As with any new beginning, it’s always a good time to take a look back at where you’ve been before you look towards the future. For Pacific Prime Singapore, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done over the past year and what we’ve been able to achieve for our clients. Providing great insurance plans and solid service is always our goal and, in the previous year, we’re happy with how we did.

Happy Chinese New Year message

We helped thousands of people get covered last year

The Year of the Monkey saw thousands of new clients seek out the expert knowledge of Pacific Prime advisors. Through utilizing our insurance partners, which include Aetna, AXA, MSIG and Cigna, we were able to connect our customers to a wide range of suitable and affordable health insurance plans to meet their individual, corporate and family needs. This includes a whopping 1,500 new clients in just the past four months!

Our office expanded to meet our ever-increasing demands

In order to continue to deliver results based on our members’ expectations, as well as to increase our capacity to help those who are new to our services, the Singapore office expanded in the past year to add five new staff members. These changes also coincided with the promotion of two of Pacific Prime’s outstanding staff members to leadership positions to help us ensure that your customer experience is the best in the market.

Pacific Prime Singapore promotions

Our products got more diverse as our clients needs did

We love pets as much as you do, so the Pacific Prime team introduced the ability to purchase pet insurance in Singapore in order to help cover the health costs of the extended, and sometimes fluffy, members of your family. The benefits of pet care coverage can include vet visits, medication and sometimes advertising expenses if you find your pet has gone missing. If you’re in the market to insure your family’s pet, call us today!

We received some heartfelt thanks and recognition from clients

Recently the Singapore staff were surprised to find a massive thank you hamper and some very special Chinese New Year wishes from a thankful client. While we don’t expect gifts for the work that we do, it was very humbling to receive such recognition from a client and was a great reminder for both local and international staff as to just how well respected the Pacific Prime Singapore staff are for their hard work and dedication.

We hit some fantastic staff diversity milestones

In addition to adding some great team members to the office, Pacific Prime Singapore are now able to say that their multicultural team now has 15 different nationalities that can speak ten languages! This is a fantastic achievement, which means we can help more and more people get insurance coverage in Singapore – regardless of where they are from and what language they speak!

Pacific Prime Singapore Staff

Bring on the Year of the Rooster!

The Year of the Monkey is coming to a close and, looking back, we know we have a lot to be thankful for. However, we also know that there’s still much work to do and that your needs will continue to grow and develop as the new year rolls on. We’re going to stay committed to providing you with the high quality service you’ve come to expect of Pacific Prime Singapore because, well, that’s just what we do.

From all of us here at Pacific Prime Singapore, we’d like to wish you a very happy Lunar New Year. Great prosperity and good health for the Year of the Rooster!

All About Hand, Foot and Mouth disease in Singapore

hand, foot and mouth

2016 was a tumultuous year when it came to infectious disease in Singapore. As Zika virus dominated headlines for portions of the year and dengue continued to affect thousands upon thousands of Singaporeans, people were constantly on the lookout for mosquitoes and incentivized to keep themselves and their families indoors. Another disease, however, still had a banner year despite not receiving the attention of these others: Hand, foot and mouth disease. Here, Pacific Prime talks about this disease, how it is affecting people in Singapore today, and how people can protect against it.

What is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease?

Hand, foot and mouth is a viral disease that causes sores to occur on the body. These sores can potentially be quite painful and are commonly found on and around the mouth, hands, arms, feet, legs and rear end. The disease is primarily spread through the air via sneezes and coughs, through contact with blister fluid, bodily fluids or infected surfaces, and can also be easily spread through a person’s stool, which is generally more of an issue when dealing with children. For example, contamination can occur because a child didn’t wash their hands properly, or when changing diapers.

After a person is infected, there is an incubation period of three to six days before symptoms arise. An infected individual is most contagious during the first week of having the disease. Beyond the sores, which are more noticeable, other symptoms of hand, foot and mouth include:

  • Fatigue or malaise
  • Irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Fever (usually between 38 and 39 degrees Celsius)
  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Dehydration

Some notes to add to this are that sores and blisters generally end about a week after they develop. Additionally, some people that become infected with hand, foot and mouth disease will never show symptoms, or symptoms will be very mild, but they can still transmit the disease to others all the same.

As far as worst case scenarios are concerned, while rare, hand, foot and mouth disease can lead to damage of the heart, lungs or brain.

With regards to diagnosing this disease, tests usually aren’t needed, as doctors can generally diagnose based on symptoms.

How is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease affecting Singapore?

2016 was actually one of the biggest years on record for hand, foot and mouth disease in Singapore. In the first half of 2016 there were already over 18,000 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease reported. Even now, in the first week of January 2017 alone, there were over 500 cases reported, which is higher than the number reported in the first week of 2016.  As it stands, every case of the disease in Singapore is required to be reported to the Ministry of Health. Of course, if you find that you or your child do have hand, foot and mouth disease, it is also important to report this to any person you may have come in contact with and infected.

There is a webpage provided by the Ministry of Health that lets the public know if there are any locations with an active cluster of hand, foot and mouth cases. As the time of this writing, there is just one facility that is listed as having active clusters of the disease, while none are listed as requiring a mandatory closure due to the rate of infection there.

Prevention and treatment

As alluded to above, children are generally the primary concern when it comes to hand, foot and mouth disease. This is especially true for those under the age of 5, as they are the most at risk for infection. As such, parents should be proactive about keeping children home from school when they have symptoms, so as not to infect other children. After all, hand, foot and mouth outbreaks are usually contained to a specific community, such as a school or daycare. Adequate time should also be taken to ensure that the infected person is not putting others at risk when they return to public life. Consult with a physician about the proper timing.

There is no vaccine or medicinal treatment for hand, foot and mouth, so practical measures should be taken to reduce the spread of infection. Be sure to clean often touched surfaces regularly, avoid close touching as much as possible, and both of the infected person and anyone taking care of them should be sure to wash their hands frequently.

As far as professional medical treatment is concerned, hand, foot and mouth usually does not require it. The disease will generally go away as a result of the body’s own immune system. Of course, home remedies can be used to alleviate symptoms and pain caused by hand, foot and mouth. These include:

  • Keep your child hydrated to help their body battle fever, and ease pain from a sore throat.
  • Avoid spicy or highly acidic foods to avoid irritating sores.
  • Over the counter drugs such a ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be used to reduce pain and fever.
  • Mouth pain can be reduced using appropriate mouthwashes or other sprays or ointments.

Pacific Prime can help

Prevention is key, but infectious disease can be a hard thing to avoid when you and your children have to go out in public, especially in a major metropolitan city like Singapore. With this in mind, it is important to make sure that your family has high quality and comprehensive health insurance, so that they can have quick access to excellent healthcare should they develop an illness like hand, foot and mouth disease. This is especially true for new expatriates living in Singapore, as they will likely not have access to the city-state’s public healthcare offerings.

To get a plan comparison of plans from major insurers in Singapore, as well as a free quote, contact the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore! They can identify the plans that best fit your needs, and answer any questions you may have.

Healthy eating in Singapore: What you need to know

Healthy eating in Singapore Pacific Prime Blog

The recent Christmas and New Year’s festivities have no doubt been a time for most people to forget about the calories and simply eat and drink to their heart’s content. But now that it’s 2017, it’s time to make some healthy resolutions, and one key healthy lifestyle change to take on this year is the adoption of a healthier diet.

Singapore has seen a progressive shift towards increasingly sedentary lifestyle patterns and hiking obesity rates – a trend that is also observable in most developed and developing countries around the world. Driven by the need to boost the health of Singaporeans, the Health Promotion Board (HPB) has been initiating continuous efforts to shift eating habits and steer Singaporean residents toward picking healthier meal options, both at home and when eating out.

This week’s article sheds light on the advantages of healthy eating, healthy Singaporean meal options, and a few other things you can do to maintain good health.

Recognizing the importance of healthy eating

Healthier eating promotes a myriad of attractive health benefits, chief among them being:

Weight control

Focusing on eating foods with high nutritional value and minimizing your intake of unhealthy saturated and trans fats, sugar and salt, can help maintain a healthy body weight and significantly lower your risk of obesity. We all need calories for energy, but we need to derive our calories from nutritious foods and avoid ‘empty’ calorie foods with little to no nutritional value.

Boost your mood

Countless studies have illuminated the positive connection between healthy food and its benefits on improving your overall mood and mental wellbeing. Foods high in antioxidants (e.g. dark chocolate and blueberries) can help boost the ability of existing brain cells to communicate with each other, and also encourage the generation of neurons – thus improving overall cognitive functioning.

Combating diseases

There are a number of ways that healthy eating can combat diseases, for example:

  • Lowering your intake of sugar can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Reducing your intake of cholesterol can promote heart health, and reduce your risk of heart and coronary artery disease.
  • Eating Potassium rich foods can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

6 tips for a more balanced diet

An article published by the Singaporean HPB highlights 6 simple strategies for a balanced and nutrition rich diet. These include:

HPB guidelines on serving recommendations per food group

Eating a well-balanced diet that provides the right amount of nutrients you need. The HPB also has a handy guideline on recommended serving sizes per food group:

  • 5-7 servings per day of brown rice and wholemeal bread
  • 2 servings of fruit
  • 2 servings of vegetables
  • 2-3 servings of meat and/or other sources of protein (e.g. lentils, eggs, milk)

Eat more whole-grain foods

Eating more whole-grain foods, as opposed to refined grains such as white rice or white bread. Refined grains have gone through processing, which removes a lot of the nutrients that whole-grains offer.

Eat more fruits and vegetables

This food group is high in vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try opting for more whole fruits rather than juices, and remember not to overcook your vegetables.

Eat enough protein

Eat enough protein, and try to aim for sources of protein with lower levels of fat and cholesterol.

Choose healthier oils

Consumer healthier oils (e.g. coconut oil) and try to avoid oils with high levels of trans and saturated fatty acids.

Lower your alcohol intake

Try to minimize or avoid alcohol intake – Most types of alcohol (e.g. beer) are high in calories. Try limiting your alcohol intake to no more than 2 drinks per day (for women), and 3 drinks per day (for men).

Healthy Singaporean dishes

As one of Asia’s most popular culinary capitals, Singaporean cuisine is diverse, and derived from multiple ethnic origins including Chinese, Malay, and Indian. But is Singaporean food healthy? When thinking about typical Singaporean dishes, the first dishes that often come to mind are popular hawker foods laksa, nasi lemak, and Indian rojak – all of which are high in calories and salt content.

Of course, it’s fine to indulge every once in awhile, but it’s also important to aim for healthier meal choices on a regular basis. Luckily, there are several popular Singaporean dishes that tick all the right boxes in terms of being both nutritious and incredibly tasty.

Thunder tea rice

Thunder tea rice, also known as “Lei Cha”, is a bowl of rice served with a range of vegetables, tofu and nuts, and further accompanied with a bowl of soup made of peanuts, herbs and green tea. Not only is this dish flavourful, it’s low calorie (around 430 calories per serving) and cholesterol content makes it ideal for weight management and body detoxification. To make this dish even healthier, opt for brown rice instead of white.

Sliced fish soup

Sliced fish soup, as the name suggests, is a bowl of fish broth served with vegetables and sliced pieces of fish. It’s only about 180 calories per serving, and is perfect for weight and blood cholesterol level management due to its low saturated fat and cholesterol content. One thing to be aware of is that some food stalls and restaurants may serve this dish with flavour enhancers or deep fried fish, so it’s best to double check that you’re eating the healthy version.

Teochew porridge

Teochew porridge is a bowl of rice congee served with a few side dishes of your choice – the most popular of which being steamed or fried fish, minced pork, tofu, and steamed or stir-fried vegetables. Its low fat content, high protein and accompaniment of vegetables make it a very well-balanced meal, especially when you choose your side dishes well and avoid going for salty and deep fried options.

Additional tips for maintaining a healthier lifestyle

To improve your overall good health and wellbeing, choosing healthier meal options is definitely an important habit to maintain, but for maximum health benefits, this should also be combined with a range of other healthy habits, such as:

Exercising

Exercising regularly is a great way to control weight, combat a range of diseases (e.g. heart conditions), and boost energy levels. The right type of exercise will depend on the person. For example, some people may prefer going to the gym (check out our article on gym memberships here), and some people may prefer exercising outdoors or joining a sports team. The best way to stick to your exercise routine is finding something that you actually enjoy doing.

Getting enough sleep

It cannot be stressed enough how important a good night’s sleep is for your body, especially due to its restorative benefits. When you’re sleeping, your body undergoes several processes to repair body tissues, metabolize sugar and fat, and re-energize you for the following day. An article on Huffington Post suggests that adults need at least 7 hours of sleep every day.

Don’t forget health insurance

While health insurance doesn’t directly make you healthier, many plans include a range of preventative benefits and coverage for essential checkups, so that any health conditions you may have is identified early on before it develops into a more serious or lifelong disease. If you’d like to have a chat about securing health insurance, be sure to contact one of our insurance experts today!