Posted on Dec 18, 2014 by Alex Nellist
The days when international assignees were provided with fully-inclusive expat packages inclusive of salary, housing costs, medical insurance, and airline tickets seem largely to be past, as a new generation of ‘locally-hired’ expatriates now compete for key positions in corporations throughout Asia and the Middle-East.
Today, the trend of reducing and containing costs in corporate structures by eliminating inclusive expat packages continues, yet Pacific Prime has witnessed a resurgence in the importance and value placed in Singapore employee health insurance benefits. Human Resources directors who take into consideration the reviews and evaluations of medical insurance plans for their employees has had a revived impact on the industry. ‘In a place like Singapore where foreigners do not benefit from socialized healthcare or government subsidies, it is simply not possible to hire or retain expats without providing solid benefits for medical insurance’ confirms the Corporate Sales Team at Pacific Prime Singapore.
Costs in the city-state for medical care are increasing at an alarming pace; medical inflation is estimated at about a 9% increase per year, meaning an MRI that cost SG$1,000 in 2010 would now cost SG$1,500. The Ministry of Health website provides information on hospital bill sizes in both the public and private sectors. As there are no subsidies for ‘Employment Pass’ holders in Singapore, the full cost of treatments is charged, whereas Singaporeans and Permanent Residents benefit from subsidies and the CPF (Central Provident Fund) to help alleviate some of the costs. The exposure to risk is therefore higher for expatriates, and the standard ‘Hospitalisation & Surgical’ benefits offered on ‘local-hire’ contracts are not sufficient to foot the bills for most medical treatments or surgeries in the city’s private hospitals.
It is no longer possible for Human Resources managers to remain oblivious to the needs and requirements of foreigners and their desire for comprehensive medical insurance benefits. Pacific Prime now organizes new ‘hybrid’ solutions for corporate employers in Asia where categories of staff may be assigned specific policies based on seniority or employee packages. This is not a new trend, as expatriates usually enjoy global coverage organised by the head office in Europe or America. This trend also benefits local nationals, as their benefits are usually reviewed as a result and also improved.
In 2014 Pacific Prime increased its revenue on corporate clients and was able to arrange tailored solutions for all categories of staff on medical insurance (hospitalisation, out-patient panel or non-panel services, dental, and maternity) as well as screening services which are becoming more and more relevant and important to include in the employee benefits scheme.
We have been very active in working with decision-makers in SME’s and MNC’s in Singapore to develop solutions that incorporate all essential aspects of employee health insurance benefits. An appropriately attractive benefit plan can increase staff retention, and acts as a powerful incentive for candidates not only to review the financial compensation but all the added benefits offered when joining. Where employers used to provide only the basic minimum and in a country where spending power is now the primary concern for all citizens and residents, comprehensive insurance benefits help employers remain attractive whilst enhancing productivity and instilling a sense of trust in the workplace. If you would like to find out more about corporate health insurance in Singapore, contact us today.