Insurance requirements for Singapore employees abroad: What companies and workers should know

Singapore employees abroad

You’re proud of your company, no doubt. You’ve taken the time and put forth the effort to make it a successful operation that Is not only profitable, but also the source of employment and livelihood for stakeholders and employees alike. Perhaps you feel like this is a real feather in your cap if you are the kind of person that has always wanted to do good for others, and you recognized that your business is providing for a number of families. You go out of your way to provide excellent benefits too. Everything is going great and you are now sending Singapore employees abroad in order to examine opportunities outside the city-state. So, what are you forgetting? Well, if you have a normal group medical insurance policy for your staff and their families, they may be at risk. Not only this, your business may be opening new doors to risks that you may not have considered! Fear not, though. Pacific Prime Singapore is providing you with this article about the insurance needs that businesses spreading its roots outside of Singapore should know about.

Covered locally. Exposed globally.

According to a survey conducted in the UK, under 8% of employers there were aware of what their obligations would be for Singapore employees abroad when it came to risk and insurance. The first one of these issues that we would like to highlight for you is the geographic restriction that can be found on most health insurance policies. In Singapore, if you are purchasing health insurance – whether it be group health insurance or a private individual medical insurance plan – odds are that the policy documentation will explicitly state that coverage only applies inside of Singapore. This means that if you need medical treatment while traveling abroad for business or pleasure, it is highly likely that you will have to pay out of pocket for the care. What’s more, if you cannot produce proof of insurance coverage in some countries, obtaining the care you need can become difficult. Obviously, nobody wants their employees hung out to dry, especially when they’re in a foreign country where they will not have a proper support network and communication with doctors can be difficult outside of major international health centers.

This is why companies should take care of Singapore employees abroad by obtaining international health insurance plans for them. With these plans, medical insurance coverage is provided in virtually any country in the world. Additionally, the insured has the ability to choose any hospital or doctor of their choosing without having to worry about staying within a network of medical facilities outlined by the insurance company. This is a key feature for many, as the last thing one wants to worry about in a medical emergency is which particular hospitals they will be able to seek treatment in so as to avoid burdensome medical debt.

Singapore employees abroad in the short or long term?

Some people may look at the previous section of this article and think, “This isn’t a problem for me. I make sure that my Singapore employees abroad always have a travel insurance policy in place for any trip they take.” While travel insurance plans are relatively inexpensive and can be helpful for travelers, there are key differences between travel insurance policies and international health insurance policies that you should be aware of.

First, and perhaps most importantly, the medical care attached to travel insurance policies is strictly for emergencies and will only go so far as ensuring that the insured is well enough to get home, at which point the insurance will no longer cover medical conditions and local health insurance may not provide for ongoing care for a condition that occurred outside of Singapore. However, with an international health insurance policy, a person need not wait for an emergency to arise before they can get medical coverage. Even out-patient procedures can be arranged and covered while travelling.

Secondly, travel insurance is also referred to as short term insurance for a reason. These plans often have a limit of up to six months or less when it comes to how long the policy can last, and will need a specific account of where you will be and when before they the policy will be issued. Then, if the insured finds themselves needing care outside of this specific criteria, they will not be covered. The advantage of international health insurance is that the policy need not be purchased on a ‘per-trip’ basis, and ongoing coverage can be maintained that allows for continuous coverage for chronic conditions or ailments that would be deemed pre-existing conditions otherwise.

There are advantages to securing travel insurance, though. Chief among these is that travel insurance provides coverage for lost or damaged property, delayed travel, unused accommodations and other items that are outside the scope of the average medical insurance plan.

Consider your liability

Liability insurance for businesses is something that many Singapore employees abroad may take for granted. This type of insurance plan protects businesses and their employees from costs related to litigation that could result through damaged or destroyed property, lost income, negligence or any other number of problems that would be considered a loss for a third party. By taking care of court costs and money for said losses, liability insurance protects businesses from litigation, allowing them to stay in business. This results in continued employment for staff, as well as adds an umbrella over them that can lessen the chance of a third party going after them personally for damages.

Here, again, we run into an issue where insurance policies may have a geographic restriction. Meaning that if damages to a third party occur in Singapore, liability insurance will cover it, but you have to be diligent in examining your current policy to ensure that damages occurring outside of Singapore are covered as well. When you start doing business internationally, there is no end to the list of things that can go wrong, and even small errors can lead to major business disruptions, no matter how careful you or your employees are.

Know your new locales

Perhaps your business has expanded to the point that you are ready to open offices in other countries. Just a word of warning here: Make sure you take the time to learn about the specific medical insurance requirements of any place you are considering expanding into. Some countries, like Singapore and many European countries, will provide those living in the country with public healthcare (although, note that expats sometimes are not eligible for these benefits, and employees frequently desire to have access to private facilities). Other countries will not have any publicly subsidized healthcare, and an insurance policy will be needed to address costs. Still other countries will require residents to purchase private medical insurance, and there are usually certain levels of care that need to be met with such policies.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! There are helpful people out there, like the knowledgeable and experienced agents at Pacific Prime Singapore, that can familiarize you with just about any country. As a licensed insurance broker in Singapore with multiple offices throughout Asia and the Middle East, and experience providing insurance in countries worldwide, we are uniquely positioned to not only provide you with answers to all of your questions, but also to source insurance policies that are ideal for your needs and budget. Contact us today for a free quote!

Disaster insurance solutions for corporates and businesses in Singapore

man on dissolving stairs representing disaster insurance

Keeping your business open and running is vital to ensuring your products are available to consumers, your services are connecting with clients, and your company continues to turn a profit. Unforeseen circumstances, such as natural events or accidents of human error, can be disruptive and, therefore, costly. This is where disaster insurance solutions can help protect you and your business when calamity strikes.

The need for disaster insurance in Singapore and Asia

While it’s true that Singapore itself doesn’t experience a high number of natural disasters, there’s no ignoring that the greater Asia takes more than its share of events. The world’s largest continent, Asia takes up 30% of the total land area of the planet. In fact, 60% of the world’s population call this region home, with over 700 million people living in cities labeled as high or extreme disaster risks.

The disaster figures are astounding, but it’s the proportion that’s more surprising. In 2016, the world counted a total of 327 separate disaster events – 191 natural and 136 man-made. Of those, Asia accounted for 48% of the economic losses experienced globally from those events, costing the region USD 83 billion. The continent also suffered the loss of 16,000 lives in 2015, while it account for over half of the world’s disasters.

The large area and population numbers is one of the factors that sees Asia return such high figures when it comes to the social and economic impacts of disasters, but it’s also why many businesses persist through challenging conditions. New and established Singaporean companies with business interests around the continent all recognize that securing their businesses with disaster insurance is a vital part of life in Asia.

What can companies expect from disaster insurance solutions?

There are a range of corporate insurance coverage options available to secure businesses against the unexpected. Those of you whose companies operate solely within Singapore can opt for a local insurance company, however multinationals with offices across a number of Asian countries will need an insurer with a global reach. Regardless, if you’re looking for disaster insurance, there are a few types of policies you should take interest in:

Property insurance

Like home and contents insurance for private homeowners, a property insurance policy protects the your business’ property from a wide range of damage causes. This can include fire, earthquakes, explosions, wind and storm damage, frozen pipes and water damage, and theft and vandalism. Property insurance can cover damage to your building premises and office equipment, as well as garages, patios, and other features on your property.

If you take out a mortgage on a commercial property or other facility, you can be sure that holding a property insurance policy will be required by your lender. It’s worth noting, however, that flooding can sometimes be exempt from coverage if your property is in an area that’s high risk for floods. If this is the case, flood coverage can usually be purchased separately at an extra cost.

Business interruption insurance

As we said earlier, an interruption to your business can be costly. Natural disasters, such as the Japan earthquakes in 2011, can damage business premises and offices, making them unsafe to operate from. Sudden disease and contagious illnesses, as with Hong Kong’s 2003 bird flu epidemic, can immobilize hundreds, if not thousands, of workers, halting business operations for an unspecific and costly length of time.

Business interruption policies can help you meet bills, cover your obligations to employees, and other business partners if your company finds itself faced with significant downtime. In a time where income ceases due to inactivity, these policies can literally be the lifeline your company needs to weather the storm through to calmer waters. This can even include where your own suppliers or distributors cause hold ups for your business.

Third party liability insurance

Finally, sometimes human error can play a part in disrupting your business operations. An employee that causes a crash whilst driving a company car, or a company tanker that flips and spills hazardous chemicals across a roadway and into a stream can all result in the business being held liable for some hefty bills and fines. Third party liability insurance helps protect the integrity of your business so that such incidents don’t cripple and bankrupt you.

Holding certain levels of third party liability plan is mandatory in many countries. Such plans can come with a maximum amount of benefits that they will pay out in the event your company becomes legally liable to pay damages to third parties. You’ll want to ensure that you’ve considered what some of your “worst case scenarios” are to ensure you’re not covering a significant difference should the time come.

Finding the right sort of disaster insurance for your business in Singapore and in Asia

There are more business insurance solutions available, such as vehicle insurance for businesses with their own fleet or employer-provided health insurance for employees, that you may or may not need to consider for your company. At the very least, you should always look to insure the important parts of your business that allows you to operate and generate income.

If you think there may be some gaps in the disaster insurance coverage your business currently has, or you’re thinking of replacing your current arrangement with something that better suits your needs, give the fantastic team at Pacific Prime Singapore a call today. Their expert advisors have over 15 years experience in connecting companies with comprehensive solutions to keep their business going through anything.

For advice or a free quote, contact Pacific Prime Singapore today!

Parents to be: Use this pregnancy technology

Healthy baby using pregnancy technology

Technology like apps, devices, and tools have become so integrated into our lives that many of us don’t even think twice about using it these days. There is little doubt that it has drastically improved our lives in Singapore and new advancements are being made nearly every day to make our lives just that much better. This is especially true when it comes to pregnancy. There is now an abundance of gadgets that make it easier and safer. Here, we take a look at pregnancy technology and its link to health insurance.

Gadgets for before the pregnancy

According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the average age of a first time mother in Singapore is 30.5 (as of 2015), among the highest in the world. This age is predicted to increase as many mothers put off having their first baby. The concern here is that as a women ages, it can be harder to fall pregnant. To increase the chances of pregnancy, doctors are increasingly turning to technology. Some examples of this in use include:

Ovulation apps

To further increase the chances of becoming pregnant, many mothers are turning to apps and online solutions that help them track their menstrual cycle to determine the days they are most fertile. By knowing this, you face a higher chance of conceiving.

There are many apps out there including Pacific Prime’s own Ovulation Calendar which can be found here. By entering three simple pieces of information our calendar can tell you the days you are most fertile and even estimates a due date based on these days.  

Male fertility trackers

It’s not just women who have fertility issues. The Mayo Clinic estimates that of the 15% of couples with fertility issues, male fertility issues can affect up to half of these couples. While seeing a doctor about any fertility concerns is always the best solution, there are some tech gadgets that can help men.

One such example is Trak, a male fertility testing system. Utilizing an app and centrifugal device, this system helps men to measure the quality of their sperm in their home. From there, the app can teach you how to improve your results which can, in turn, lead to a higher chance of pregnancy.

Pregnancy technology for during the pregnancy

For moms who are already pregnant, there are a wide variety of tech solutions and gadgets available that help not only ensure a healthy pregnancy but also connect with their developing baby. Here are two:

Play sounds for the baby

The science is still out on whether playing certain sounds like music or recordings of your voice will have a positive impact on your baby’s early development, but there are studies and reports (like this one on Livestrong) out there that have linked music recognition and alertness in newborns. Other articles like this one on WebMD report that language development can actually start in the womb.

It appears that playing soft sounds and music likely won’t hurt the development of your baby, and there are indeed a great many gadgets such as BellyBuds available that allow you to play sound and recordings to your baby.  

Track and listen to the baby’s heartbeat

Another popular piece of technology tech-savvy mothers are using during pregnancy is the portable ultrasound, like the Bellabeat Shell. This device attaches to your phone and uses leading-edge sound technology that allows you to listen to, record, and even share your baby’s heartbeat.

Tech for the newborn baby

Ask any parent and they will tell you that raising a child is one of the most rewarding things one can experience. Many will also say that the first few months are tough. As with everything these days, an increasing amount of technology is available to help make your baby’s first few months that much easier. Here are two examples where pregnancy technology is being utilized.

To measure your baby’s sleep

Sleep is important for people regardless of age. In order to ensure that mom, dad, baby, and any other caregiver gets quality sleep it might help to monitor your infant’s sleep. One solution that allows you to do this is Mimo.

What’s cool about this is that it’s actually a piece of smart clothing that can monitor your baby’s sleep. Think of it as a snuggie/onesie with a sleep tracker built into the cloth which can track your baby’s temperature, position, and breathing in real time.  

To measure your baby’s temperature

Having a sick baby is not fun for anyone, especially when you need to take your baby’s temperature on a regular basis and they are asleep. One solution is the smart pacifier like the Pacif-i.

This pacifier has a sensor built into it that allows you to quickly and easily take your baby’s temperature and share it via a companion app and Bluetooth.  

Pregnancy technology and your health insurance

Finally, it is important to discuss how pregnancy technology links with your health insurance. Firstly, almost all of the tech listed in this article will not usually be covered by your health insurance plan. The link here is that it is essential that before you use any tech, especially gadgets that could impact the health of yourself or your baby, it would be a good idea to talk with your doctor.

In Singapore, many expats will likely go to the private facilities which could be quite costly. It would, therefore, be a good idea to ensure you secure maternity coverage (which can be added on to most health insurance plans). This can help offset the cost of doctor visits and potentially shed some light on the effective use of technology before, during, and after pregnancy.

One thing to be aware of here, however, is that there are waiting limits attached to maternity plans in Singapore, usually 10 months. This time must pass before you can start to submit plans so it would be beneficial to plan ahead.

If you are looking to learn more about maternity insurance contact Pacific Prime Singapore today.

C-sections in Singapore: Implications for new moms

C-sections in Singapore

Caesarean sections (C-section) have become a common method for giving birth in countries around the world. It has even been gaining popularity in many spots, and C-sections in Singapore are no different. While the percentage of births by C-section in Singapore accounted for 10-15% of total births in the early 1990s, the procedure now accounts for an estimated 40-45% of all births in the city-state. This trend has raised questions in the minds of some who question not only if C-sections are always in the best interest of mother and child, but also if medically unnecessary C-sections in Singapore are being performed for unscrupulous reasons. Here, Pacific Prime Singapore examines the topic more in depth.

Why perform a C-section?

To be clear, C-sections in Singapore have become a widely accepted medical practice that has been credited with improving newborn and maternal mortality rates worldwide in cases where the procedure was medically necessary. However, there has also been evidence that overuse of C-section when it is not needed does not necessarily improve health outcomes. In fact, it may be detrimental to the health mothers and children in some cases.

There are multiple reasons why a C-section may be deemed necessary. For mothers, this includes:

  • A woman has too small a pelvis for the baby to pass through.
  • The mother cannot physically go through the labor process, for example, if there is a high risk of heart attack.
  • A woman has had a delivery by C-section.

For newborns, the reasons may include:

  • There are multiple babies (twins, triplets, etc).
  • Passage through the vaginal area puts the baby at some sort of risk (i.e. if the mother has a disease that might be contracted).
  • Fetal illness.
  • Umbilical cord problems.
  • Fetal distress.
  • Placenta previa, which is when the placenta covers the cervicx.

While the above items will generally warrant a C-section, there are other issues still that may be possible, but not concrete indicators for needing a C-section. In these instances it is important to communicate with your doctor about what they think is the best course of action.

There is also the 3rd possibility that the decision to have a C-section performed is completely elective, meaning that it is done for no other reason than it is more convenient.

Incentives to perform C-sections in Singapore

Medical journal BMJ has released a study focusing on purely elective C-sections, and delving into the reasoning behind the increase in such cases that have been seen in recent years. What the research found is that women would receive C-sections at a particularly high rate in private hospitals versus their public counterparts. In fact, women were 40% more likely to receive C-sections in private facilities. Why would this be, though?

Well, the study states objectively that, “Financial incentives are likely to contribute to the observed association.” This means that doctors, and perhaps hospitals or healthcare systems in the macro view, are pushing C-sections because they can make more money off of them. The study continued, “Fee for service reimbursement may be more common for private for-profit hospitals and will encourage hospitals and physicians to provide more procedures than medically indicated and increase time pressure on physicians to perform C-sections instead of waiting longer for a normal birth.”

In Singapore in particular the cost of C-sections can vary considerably by hospital, but for a private room in a private hospital the cost can be anywhere from SGD 13,000 to 20,000 and will require an average of 3.4 days in the hospital. By comparison, natural deliveries in Singapore private hospitals average a stay of about 2.4 days and cost anywhere from SGD 8,000 to 12,000.  These costs assume that there are no complications with the delivery, as such problems can cause the price of a medical bill to rise exponentially.

Things to remember

When deciding to receive elective surgery of any kind, it is important to remember that it is highly unlikely that your health insurance will provide coverage for it. This means that if your doctor is not willing to confirm with your insurer that a C-section is/was medically necessary, you may have to pay out of the pocket for the birth itself. However, as the BMJ study states, “Health insurers can also encourage overprovision of C-sections as they tend to reimburse hospitals and physicians better for C-sections than for vaginal delivery.”

If you are thinking that maternity insurance is not important for you, please keep in mind that expatriates in Singapore do not have access to publicly subsidized healthcare. So, given that women are more likely to have a C-section in a private hospital, which is the only type of hospital that new expats in Singapore will have access to, it could really pay to have quality maternity insurance in place. Especially since costs at private hospitals are higher in general, and C-sections are more costly than natural births.

If you have any questions about your particular maternity insurance plan, coverage for C-sections, or to obtain maternity insurance for yourself, please contact the helpful insurance advisers at Pacific Prime Singapore. They will gladly answer all of your questions, as well as present you with a plan comparison and free price quotation for maternity insurance plans from Singapore’s best insurance companies.

Allianz Worldwide Care unveils new international healthcare plans for Singapore

Allianz Singapore

Consumers of the Singapore insurance market have just had a great boost in choice added to their options following an announcement by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty and Allianz Worldwide Care. The partners have just unveiled a suite of new International Health Insurance solutions that aim to provide even better comprehensive international private medical insurance (IPMI) products to consumers.

For both groups and individuals, the new Allianz plans offer worldwide cover that are specifically designed to meet the needs of both local nationals, expatriates, and their families, as well as the staff needs of multinational companies based in Singapore. As one of the most desirable cities to live in both Asia and the world, Pacific Prime Singapore is proud to be a broker of these new plans to Singapore residents.

Who is Allianz?

Both Allilanz Global Corporate & Specialty and Allianz Worldwide Care are subsidiaries of the German financial service company Allianz, headquartered in Munich. Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty has been servicing clients in more than 210 countries and territories around the world, across the spectrum of marine, aviation and corporate business. They are one of the leading global insurance companies.

Allianz Worldwide Care offers health, life and disability insurance, as well as a range of corporate assistance services to employers and insurance partners worldwide. Their international healthcare plans are tailored to meet the needs of globally mobile individuals and families too. The partnership between the two subsidiaries moves to strengthen Allianz’s market position in the APAC region and Singapore.

What are these new IPMI solutions?

Core Plans

Both individual and corporate clients have a selection of Allianz Core Plans on offer to them. These cover a wide range of inpatient and day-care treatments, as well as providing for benefits such as medical evacuation, local ambulance, and nursing at home costs. You also have the choice of whether you want worldwide or worldwide excluding USA as your geographical coverage area.

Supplementary Benefits

In order to make the plans more flexible, Allianz then allows individuals or businesses to include additional benefits such as:

  • Outpatient care
  • Dental
  • Maternity
  • Repatriation plans

The concept of these plans is to ensure that policyholders in Singapore can build a coverage plan that meets their individual needs. If you would like to know more about what these new plans include, please see their website for groups and individuals here.

What does this mean for consumers?

These new Allianz plans continue the insurers customer-centric ethos and helps them drive better solutions to meet your needs. The coupling of Allianz Worldwide Care’s international insurance teams and Allianz Global Corporate & Speciality’s corporate units means their combined resources can serve both new and existing clients better than ever before.

For new customers, you’ll be able to jump straight into an Allianz international private medical insurance plan and start receiving the great service the insurer provides through these plans. Existing clients will benefit from the pooled resources of these subsidiaries through their existing plans, or can negotiate swapping to a new one if they feel it would be a better fit.

Getting a new insurance plan: Pacific Prime Singapore

Pacific Prime Singapore has been a broker of Allianz plans for many years now and are proud to offer these new products to both new and existing clients alike. As an impartial party, you can still expect to get the best advice on which insurer offers the best plan for your situation, and now we can add these Allianz options to the mix. You will continue to be the centre of all our decision making.

If you’d like to know more about these new plans, or you’re simply looking for some insurance solutions in the great country of Singapore, give the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore a call today. Their experienced advisors have over 15 years experience in match the right health plans to the right clients, and working with many major insurers. For a free, no obligation quote, call Pacific Prime Singapore today!

Sleep on it: Here’s why you should snooze longer

Pacific Prime article on sleep

On March 17, people all over the globe celebrated World Sleep Day, an annual event for raising awareness on the major role sleep plays in improving our health and wellbeing. We all know that not resting enough can result in grogginess and disorientation, but did you know that a good night’s rest is definitely not something to yawn about, as it can deliver a range of health benefits that go beyond simply making us feel well-rested and rejuvenated?

In this week’s article, Pacific Prime Singapore unveils the reasons why we need sufficient sleep, the short-term and long-term impacts of sleep deprivation, key tips for getting a good night’s sleep, and whether health insurance covers sleep-related disorders.

Singapore: A sleepless nation?

Singaporeans get an average of 7 hours and 24 minutes of sleep per day, tying with Japan as one of the most sleep deprived countries among 100 nations. A study by SingHealth Polyclinics indicated that 40% percent of Singaporeans do not get adequate sleep, especially on weekdays.

The SingHealth Polyclinics study further found that activities such as staying up late to study, surfing the internet, playing computer games, and drinking caffeinated drinks close to bedtime all have a negative impact on the amount of rest one gets.

Some analysts further point to the culture of working long hours in Singapore as a major reason behind sleep deprivation in the city-state. This is especially the case in the financial services sector, where a whopping 78% financial service professionals work beyond their contracted hours. Additionally, over 43 percent of financial service professionals in Singapore work during weekends and holidays.

Why do we need a good night’s sleep?

First, let’s look at the basics, namely the science behind sleep. Sleep passes through 5 stages: 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM:

  • Stage 1 is also known as light sleep. It usually takes 7 minutes to go into stage one.
  • In stage 2, your heart rate slows down and your body temperature drops.
  • In stages 3 and 4, you reach deep sleep. During these stages, your body undergoes a restorative stage, and secretes growth hormones that help re-energize your body, and regulate muscle and bone growth.
  • The REM stage, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement, usually occurs after 90 minutes of sleep, and lasts about an hour. During this stage, your breathing becomes shallow and heart rate increases. This is the stage when dreaming occurs, and also when the information you have absorbed during the day gets processed. Neural connections are further formed, which help strengthen your memory.

What are the short-term health effects of poor quality sleep?

We all know how groggy we can feel when we don’t get enough rest. Having bad quality sleep the night before not only makes us feel tired, but also has a negative impact on attention span, memory recall and learning. Further short-term negative impacts of poor quality sleep include feelings of anxiety, distractibility, and stressed relationships.

What’s more, research by the Singapore Management University revealed that workers who don’t snooze enough are more likely to waste time surfing the internet, thus leading to lower levels of efficiency and productivity. In the US alone, poor performance caused by lack of sleep costs firms a total of USD 63.2 billion per year!

Long-term health risks associated with sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation puts you at an increased risk of developing a weakened immune system, as well as a range of chronic conditions (e.g. diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, cancer – including colon, breast and prostate, etc), and even early mortality. Lack of sleep has also been linked to a number of psychological conditions, including depression and mood disorders. These negative effects all point to how adequate sleep is very much a crucial human need, alongside eating well and getting enough exercise.

Tips for improving your quality of sleep

To ensure that you get a better night’s sleep, here are a few key tips to get you started:

  • Avoid caffeine 4 – 6 hours before bedtime – that means no coffee, tea, and sodas with caffeine in them.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule, and try to do this even on weekends.
  • Sleep in a cool and dark room, with no bright lights. (Try using low-wattage light bulbs instead.)
  • Consider speaking to your doctor if you think your lack of sleep is being caused by a sleep-related disorder, e.g. sleep apnea and insomnia.

Sleep duration recommendations

How much sleep you need very much depends on the age group you belong to. The following visual guide by the National Sleep Foundation provides a good reference point for all the different age groups. As you can see, younger children need significantly more sleep (14 to 17 hours) than adults (7 to 9 hours).

Pacific Prime blog about sleep

Source: National Sleep Foundation (2015)

Will my health insurance cover sleep-related disorders?

Most sleep-related disorder studies and tests are considered an outpatient procedure, so you’ll need to obtain health insurance that includes outpatient coverage in order to make a claim for any of these tests. Please note that not all insurance plans will provide coverage for sleep disorders under the the outpatient benefit, so if you’re unsure whether a plan covers sleep-related disorders, it’s definitely worth speaking to your insurance provider to find out.

If you’re on the lookout for the best value health insurance plan, or would like some insurance advice, be sure to contact the insurance experts at Pacific Prime Singapore today. Our experienced advisors are on hand to provide impartial advice, as well as give you a free quote.

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!