Employee health benefits costs are rising, again — do you have a strategy?

January 10, 2018


Employee Health Benefits Costs are not coming down anytime soon; with such news how can corporates provide employees with benefits they love? According to global surveys conducted last year, corporate healthcare insurance premiums are predicted to increase by another 6% in 2017. Companies have responded by implementing measures like shifting the additional costs to employees, or providing alternative options for treatment.

As the owner or HR manager of your company, you will have had one or the other of these plans sold to you before, probably about a hundred times: Group Hospital Plan, Group Outpatient Plan, Group Personal Accident Plan, and Group Term Life Plan. They are the Methuselah* of corporate insurance; they are old, they are there, but they do not seem to be very relatable to your employees. For the benefit of those who only have a vague idea, here is what they are about:

1) Group hospital plan

This is the most common plan out of all company healthcare plans. Traditionally, companies perceived that “little” discomforts and pains like flus lie beyond their realm of responsibility, and this — unfortunately — is still very much prevalent in today’s corporate world, despite changing workforce dynamics and demographics. Group hospital plans usually include coverage for things like surgical fees and emergency treatment, and exclude General Practitioner (GP) visits. Another thing to take note of is that all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents (PRs) are automatically placed under a national life insurance scheme, MediShield. Seeing that the coverage for MediShield is similar to private hospital plans, and most plans do not allow double claiming, you may be paying for benefits your employees already have.

2) Group outpatient plan

Speaking of GP coverage, the Group Outpatient one is one such example. Depending on premium, Group Outpatient plans usually cover GP consultation fees and medication up to a certain percentage. The coverage is determined by the type of clinic (e.g, panel or non-panel), and the premium amount will also determine the co-payment ratio between you and your employee. They can include selected private clinic groups, polyclinics, and specialized institutions. Not many companies provide this kind of plan because it is usually more expensive, and only available as a rider to a hospitalization plan.

So it seems like a classic damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation here, doesn’t it? Damned if you try to pay for a plan that hardly anyone in your company uses, and damned if you break the bank trying to provide GP coverage. We will not promise to save the day, but this might work for you:

a) Look at the demographic profile of your employees

Which age group do they fall into? How active are they? How many of them are smokers? Bearing in mind that millennials now make up 22% of Singapore’s workforce, you might realize that GP coverage might make more sense than a hospitalization one.

b) Know your company's healthcare budget

Examine your company’s claims track records. Which benefits were utilized the most and least? This will help you determine what is truly relevant to your employees, and also weed out the benefits you have been paying for (nothing).

c) Shop Around

Fortunately, there are many more insurers in the market now as compared to a mere decade ago. Shop around to see what is available on the market, and take note of things like deductibles (how much your employee has to pay before the plan coverage kicks in) and riders(what you can tag onto your main plan). Insurance plans are not like electronic products, so if an insurer adopts Steve Job’s “Your customer does not know what they want. Tell them what they want” mantra, you can (and please do) tell them where to go. You know your company best, so look for an insurance provider that can customise a plan for you.

*In case you did not know, at 969 years old, Methuselah is said to be the oldest man to have ever lived!

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