Here’s why your business should offer employee health benefits

Here’s why your business should offer employee health benefits

Gone are the days when an employee happily collected their pay and expected little more. In today’s candidate-driven market, employee health benefits are often hailed the crown jewels of a compensation package.

Yes, staying compliant is imperative for every business, but going above and beyond the rest is what makes your company stand out from other competitors. While there are many ways of achieving this, going the extra mile by offering healthcare benefits can be a great way to start.

Here, corporate health insurance specialist Pacific Prime China looks at the top reasons why businesses should offer employee health benefits.

Attract quality talent

55 percent of Chinese employers are set to increase their headcount this year, according to a 2017 China Salary & Employment Outlook survey. As a result, more and more employers are investing their efforts into attracting quality talent across all departments and levels of seniority. While these strategies translate to more optimistic employment opportunities, they also place a further strain on the nation’s candidate-driven market, where top job candidates often receive multiple attractive offers.

In responding to this growing pressure to differentiate against other employers, a growing number of companies are recognizing the need to move beyond monetary benefits alone. In fact, SHRM revealed that two-thirds of HR professionals believe the importance of healthcare related benefits (e.g. corporate health insurance) in recruiting talent will increase over the next three to five years. A 2015 New Benefits Buyers Study further found that almost 80 percent of job candidates consider a company’s employee benefits package when deciding whether or not to accept their job offer.

Retain talent

In addition to attracting talent, the importance of retaining top talent is also taking center stage. Why? One of the largest challenges faced by employers in China today is high employee turnover. When looking at the country’s turnover data over the past few years, the situation appears to be worsening.

In 2012, the employee turnover rate was 18.9 percent. In 2016, the turnover rate shot up to an average of 20.8 percent. Some industries even saw a turnover rate of up to 40 percent. Throw in the fact that over half of millennials, now the world’s largest working generation, are happy to leave their job in favor of better opportunities, and it’s clear to see why offering a competitive employee health benefits package is becoming increasingly important.

Starbucks in China, for example, with a workforce made up primarily of university graduates, sees employee retention as a strategic imperative. The company found in a survey that the majority of their employees consider taking care of their parents as the most powerful benefit they could receive. In responding to workforce needs, the coffee chain is now providing health insurance for the parents of its employees in China.

Enhancing employee-employer relations

Maintaining good employee-employer relations will help reduce workplace conflict, as well as lead to improved staff morale and job satisfaction.

In a Global Employee Benefit Trends China Study, employees were asked to score from seven (strongly agree) to one (strongly disagree) several areas connected with the benefits provision (e.g. “values placed on health & wellness”). They were then asked to agree/disagree with statements that indicate higher levels of employee engagement and commitment to their employer’s goals (e.g. “I am satisfied with the job I have now”, “I feel loyal to my employer”).

And the results? For each one point increase in sentiment around benefits, the study found that there is a 12 percent or more increase in the likelihood of the employee agreeing with positive statements about their employer.

Combat productivity losses

Offering employee health benefits that effectively address both physical and emotional health can go a long way in boosting the overall health of employees. A healthier workforce is less likely to go on sick leave, recover from illness quicker, and are less at risk of developing long term illnesses that require frequent and expensive care.

Healthier employees also translate to a more productive workforce, not just because of reduced absenteeism, but also lowered presenteeism (the loss of productivity from not working at full capacity – e.g. showing up to work despite being ill). Just how significant are the costs of absenteeism and presenteeism? According to new insights by Global Corporate Challenge, absent employees cost companies roughly USD 150 billion every year, and those who came to work but were not fully productive cost USD 1,500 billion each year.

Final advice: Talk to an employee health benefits specialist

Now that you’ve understood the key reasons why you should offer employee health benefits, you might be thinking: “How do I go about implementing an employee benefits program?” As every workforce comes in all different shapes and sizes, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits all benefits package. This, coupled with the lack of transparency in what other competitors are offering, can make it very hard to devise and implement the best-fitting plan for your staff.

This is where talking to an employee health benefits specialist like Pacific Prime China can really make the difference. With years of experience serving clients of all sizes, we’ve helped over 3,000 companies in virtually every industry secure the best employee benefits solutions for their needs. What’s more, the additional support we give to clients (e.g. dedicated account managers and in-house claims team) can really help in taking care of all the administrative hassles of managing your employees’ health benefits.

To learn more about the Pacific Prime China difference, be sure to check out our newly released Beijing and/or Shanghai Corporate Flyer, or contact our friendly team of corporate advisors today.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Health Insurance
Public Shanghai hospitals, VIP clinics, and international hospitals: 6 key differences

Public Shanghai hospitals, VIP clinics, and international hospitals: 6 key differences

“Where should I go for care?” is usually one of the top questions asked by newcomers to Shanghai. Ever since mid-2014, when the Chinese government permitted wholly foreign owned hospitals in seven cities and provinces, the quality and choice of care for locals and expats have improved considerably. Primary healthcare choices available to expats and residents today include public Shanghai hospitals, the VIP clinics present at larger public hospitals, and international hospitals/clinics. Here, we’ve highlighted the main differences between the three types of facilities.

1. Booking an appointment

Few public Shanghai hospitals offer the ability to book appointments, and in most cases people who use such facilities will need go to the hospital and buy a registration ticket there (this will cost around RMB 14). Recent improvements, however, have made it easier to book an appointment through new healthcare apps. That being said, most of these apps require a Chinese ID number, so most expats will not be able to use them.

A select number of public hospitals also have so-called VIP clinics, sometimes in conjunction with foreign companies, where services provided are more personalized, and amenities are more pleasant. These clinics generally allow the ability to book appointments. If you speak little to no Mandarin, however, you may find it difficult to successfully book an appointment over the phone in English. If that is the case, you might just have to show up and request for an appointment in person.

International hospitals generally have a dedicated hotline for booking appointments with your preferred doctor. Administrative staff are generally able to communicate in English, and may be able to speak a range of other languages, too. This means it’s generally quite easy to book an appointment in your preferred language. Many international clinics and hospitals (e.g. ParkwayHealth) also feature online booking forms on their website, which can make things a lot easier and less time consuming when requesting an appointment.

2. Wait times

As mentioned in our recent article on beating public hospital queues, long wait times and delays in seeking treatment are commonplace in public Shanghai hospitals. The relatively affordable public system not only attracts the majority of Shanghai’s 23 million person population, but also those who live in neighboring areas. This translates to very long wait times that are in most cases well over an hour. Many will even need to miss one day’s work (sometimes even more) to complete their consultation/tests.

To avoid long wait times, VIP clinics and international hospitals would be favorable, as doctors in these facilities will generally be able to see you quickly. As these facilities take care of fewer patients, doctors will likely dedicate more time in treating and learning more about each of their patients. This extra care can be very valuable for patients, as they are more likely to leave the hospital feeling confident that they have received the best care.

3. Cost

One of the largest differences between public Shanghai hospitals, VIP clinics, and international hospitals is cost. Public hospitals in China are much less expensive than the latter facilities. In public hospitals, you can expect to pay less than RMB 20 for a general check-up, and only RMB 150 to see a specialist.

On the other hand, the cost of tests and treatments at VIP clinics can easily be several times the fees charged at standard public hospitals. For example, general consultations start at about RMB 600 at VIP clinics. As can be expected, international hospitals are usually the most expensive. In these facilities, you will likely pay around RMB 1,200 to RMB 1,500 for a general consultation.

As can be seen above, fees charged at VIP clinics and international hospitals are significantly more expensive than standard public hospital fees. This is why many locals and expats alike secure private health insurance to save hundreds and thousands on their medical expenses.

4. Language barrier

If you speak only very basic or no Mandarin at all, and would like to seek care at a public Shanghai hospital, be sure to bring a Chinese-speaking friend along with you when you go to the hospital. This is because most administrative staff, nurses, and other medical staff at public facilities speak little-to-no English. Most local Shanghai doctors can read, write, and speak some English, but not many are fluent.

Doctors and other staff at VIP clinics generally have a better grasp of the English language than their standard public counterparts, but not all staff will be able to speak English fluently or to a reasonable standard. Doctors working in international hospitals, however, are generally foreigners or Chinese who have been trained overseas. Their English skills are, therefore, generally excellent. A number of these doctors are also able to speak several other foreign languages (e.g. French, Japanese).

5. Equipment

Many in China hold the general perception that the equipment used at public Shanghai hospitals are of a higher quality than the equipment in smaller town/city hospitals. Generally speaking, this is true, particularly at larger facilities where you can expect to find reasonably high quality, imported or local equipment. Due to the higher budgets available to VIP clinics, and especially international hospitals, they generally spend more on newer, state-of-the-art medical technology. This can be crucial, especially for more complex procedures.

6. Comfort level

Public facilities are generally less clean than what many people from overseas are used to, and comfort levels can be quite basic – e.g. crowded wards, and only very basic amenities. If you’re staying overnight at a hospital, please be aware that you’ll likely need to bring your own toiletries with you, and food options are often quite limited. Those who want more privacy can choose to stay at VIP semi-private or private wards, which are generally a lot more comfortable and quite similar to those at international hospitals. Their consultation rooms are usually larger, too.

If you’re after some pampering, some international hospitals go one step beyond to offer high-end perks like butler service, personalized meals, and even private clubhouses on hospital grounds. The extra extravagant perks offered at select international hospitals do come with a hefty price tag, but can make all the difference for patients and their families, as well as make recovery a little more bearable.

So, what’s the best Shanghai hospital option for me?

At the end of the day, which facility you go to is entirely up to you. There are many considerations you might want to make, such as what you can afford, as well as your language, and comfort preferences. However, if you are looking to access superior quality and personalized service in the fastest time possible, Pacific Prime China recommends obtaining private health insurance to give you the option of accessing the VIP or international hospital care you desire.

Want to learn more about healthcare in Shanghai?

If you have any more questions, or would like to learn more about healthcare in China’s most populous expat city, download our newly released hospital guide today. Titled: Public and Private Healthcare in Shanghai, the free resource provides handy information not only on the differences between public, VIP, and international hospital care, but also the history of healthcare in China, cost and insurance coverage options, as well as how emergencies are handled.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team of experts today. With years of experience in Shanghai, our advisors know the ins and outs of the city’s hospital system, as well as how to find the best plan to access the best care. They’re also on hand to give you impartial advice, as well as a free quote!


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Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance
6 questions to ask about your current employee health insurance plan

6 questions to ask about your current employee health insurance plan

When it comes to employee benefits, perks like free office massages might do a lot for employee morale, but nothing beats a robust employee health insurance plan for keeping staff happy. In fact, a 2016 Glassdoor study found that the majority of employees and job candidates want health insurance benefits over pay rises.

But, when handed their employee benefits booklet, most workers find it hard to discern whether their corporate health insurance coverage is enough for their needs. This is where reading the policy’s fine print is crucial. Not only will it help you understand what benefits you are entitled to, it will also illuminate the coverage areas that may be lacking and help you avoid any nasty surprises.

In our recent post on top-up insurance, our expert team looked at the importance of top-up plans in making up for the coverage gaps in corporate health insurance policies. To further help you decide whether your current employee health insurance is enough for your needs, this article discusses some of the most important questions to consider:

Is my doctor covered?

In terms of employer-provided health insurance, one of the most popular cost-containment measures implemented by employers in China is limiting cover to a specific network of hospitals and clinics. Please note that you will usually need to pay more for out-of-network care. Additionally, some plans won’t cover care at out-of-network facilities at all, while others will only cover a very small amount or percentage. If it’s important for you to keep seeing the same doctor, it would be a good idea to ask your company’s HR whether your doctor is covered by your health plan. If they’re not sure, check with the insurer or a reputed broker like Pacific Prime China.

What’s the coverage limit?

Another common gap in basic employee health insurance plans is overall low coverage limits for hospitalization and surgery. A limit is the maximum amount your insurance policy will pay for covered services, which means that you will need to pay all the costs that exceed your plan’s limit out of pocket (unless you have a separate or top-up medical policy that can take care of these costs).

A policy’s coverage limit is a key element that should by no means be overlooked, as a large medical bill can easily exceed low insurance limits. This is especially true for those who only/usually seek care at private clinics and hospitals, where costs tend to be much higher than their public counterparts (e.g. a private emergency surgical procedure costs around RMB 50,000).

Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions?

Historically, it was common for group health insurance plans to cover pre-existing conditions, which are any illnesses, ailments, or injuries the policyholder already has or had. However, amidst rising healthcare and health insurance costs, an increasing number of corporate plans are excluding these conditions.

If you have a condition that requires ongoing medical treatment (e.g. diabetes), it’s important to ask or check your policy’s exclusions section to find out whether your plan will cover you for this type of care.

Are there any preventative care and/or maternity benefits?

Another common coverage area that many employees in China find lacking is the exclusion of added benefits like preventative care (e.g. health checkup) and maternity cover. These types of care can be very expensive in China (e.g. a maternity c-section package costs up to RMB 98,000), which is why it’s imperative for you to know whether they’re covered by your plan. This is especially important if you require such healthcare services on a regular basis or in the foreseeable future.

Is care outside of China covered?

Does your plan only cover you in China, or can you rely on it internationally? This is another factor to consider, especially if you’re a globally mobile expat or frequent traveller. If your current employee health insurance only covers you in China and you’re looking for a solution that features wider geographical coverage, we would recommend finding a plan that at least includes both China and Hong Kong cover; this is because Hong Kong has some of the very best hospitals in Asia.

Do I need top-up insurance?

If, after studying your current employee health insurance, you find that there are a number of coverage deficiencies that you want to supplement, a top-up insurance plan might be the best option for you. Designed to fill the coverage gaps and deficiencies in company-sponsored health plans, top-up insurance can take over where your current plan’s benefits end, and also offer additional benefits that are not currently provided (e.g. maternity).

There are, of course, many other considerations you will need to make when deciding whether top-up insurance is right for you. For instance, there’s also the option of purchasing an entirely separate medical insurance plan, in which case there will not be any control over your plan by your employer, so you’ll be able to continue your benefits regardless of your employment status. While this option has its perks, coverage elements may overlap with your current employee plan, and it can often be costlier than arranging a top-up insurance solution.

Don’t just stop at health insurance

When reviewing your employee benefits, don’t just stop at health insurance. Your employer may also offer a wider range of protection solutions like home and contents, Accidental Death & Dismemberment, as well as liability and income protection insurance.

If the above mentioned benefits are something that you feel is important for you to have, but are not currently offered by your employer, be sure to talk to a trusted broker like Pacific Prime China, who will ensure that you get the most optimal solutions at the best possible price.

Download our Beijing and Shanghai Top-Up Guides today

If you are looking to learn more about supplementing your employee health insurance, downloading our recently released Beijing and/or Shanghai Top-Up Guide(s) is a great way to start. Get your free copy of our latest guides by clicking the links below:

If you have any more questions about your employee health insurance, top-up insurance, or any other insurance related matter, be sure to contact our expert team today. With almost two decades of experience matching expats and professionals with the most optimal insurance solutions in China, our team are more than happy to offer their impartial advice, as well as give you a free quote and plan comparison.


top-up guide spread

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Health Insurance
Top-up insurance: What is it, what does it cover, and why might I need it?

Top-up insurance: What is it, what does it cover, and why might I need it?

As one of the most coveted employee benefit perks, a growing number of companies in China are offering group health insurance to stay competitive in retaining and attracting top talent. In fact, around 65 percent of employees in China have some form of employer-provided health insurance coverage. That said, common coverage deficiencies in corporate health insurance have led to growing demand for top-up insurance products in the nation.

To address the most commonly asked questions about top-up insurance in the two most populous expat cities in China, our team of insurance experts at Pacific Prime China have recently released 2017-2018 Top-Up Guides for both Shanghai and Beijing. This week’s blog post provides an overview of what the guide covers, as well as what a top-up plan is, what it covers, and why you would need it.

Inside our Shanghai and Beijing Top-Up Guides

Our Shanghai and Beijing Top-Up guides are valuable resources for anyone possessing employer-provided health coverage who is considering additional options to supplement it, or who feels that their corporate cover may not be quite enough. By downloading our Shanghai or Beijing Top-Up Guide, you’ll get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we get around top-up insurance, including:

  • What is a top-up plan?
  • What are the main hospitals in Shanghai/ Beijing?
  • What are the most common deficiencies in employer-provided health plans?
  • What are the costs of treatment at public vs private hospitals in Shanghai/ Beijing?
  • What are the top-up insurance solutions available to you?
  • And more.

To answer the above questions the best we can, both Top-Up guides are broken down into five easy-to-read sections:

  1. Background on top-up insurance plans in Shanghai/ Beijing
  2. Hospitals in Shanghai/ Beijing
  3. Common employer-provided insurance policy gaps
  4. Actual costs of medical treatments and surgeries in Shanghai/ Beijing
  5. Insurance solutions available to address deficiencies in employer-provided plans

Best of all, our Shanghai and Beijing Top-Up Guides are both available to download for FREE from the health insurance guides section of our website, which also features a whole range of other insurance and healthcare related guides dedicated to simplifying insurance for expats living in China.

What is top-up insurance, and what does it cover?

A top-up insurance policy provides additional coverage benefits to make up for the gaps and deficiencies in an existing employer-provided health insurance policy. It can work out to be the cheapest option for complementing your corporate cover, especially when compared to purchasing a separate medical insurance policy from scratch.

With a top-up plan, you can lower your premiums by using your employer-provided health insurance as a primary level of coverage, and then making claims with your top-up plan where hospital bills have exceeded or are not part of the coverage benefits included in your company health insurance plan. In the table below, we’ve included an example of how a top-up arrangement may work vis-à-vis an employer-provided plan:


top-up insurance exampleSource: Shanghai Top-Up Guide 2017-2018

In addition to topping up on coverage limits, another major advantage of top-up insurance is that it can offer extra benefits that are not covered by your existing corporate health insurance plan. These can include benefits for serious illnesses, out-patient cover (e.g. vaccinations, specialist visits, health screenings, Traditional Chinese Medicine), maternity, dental, and vision cover, as well as extended geographical coverage (i.e. international cover).

Why do I need top-up insurance?

Top-up insurance can be the best, most cost-effective solution for complementing and making up for deficiencies in employer-provided cover. This is especially true for employees who have very basic employer-provided health insurance, or a corporate policy that does not suit their healthcare requirements, as top-up plans can really help reduce the financial risk of spending hundreds and thousands out of pocket on treatments not covered by company health insurance.

One major factor boosting demand for top-up plans in China is the ever-increasing cost of care, which has illuminated the need to secure more comprehensive private health insurance with higher limits and more coverage benefits for better protection.

The need for supplementary health insurance coverage is even greater if you usually/ only seek care at private facilities, where costs are in most cases significantly higher than public hospitals. For instance, a GP visit at a VIP clinic or international hospital in Shanghai can cost up to RMB 1,000, and a health checkup can cost up to RMB 12,200.

Further tests and procedures will cost more, e.g. a colonoscopy costs around RMB 12,000, an emergency surgical procedure usually costs around RMB 50,000, and a maternity c-section package costs up to RMB 98,000. With these costs in mind, it is easy to see why securing a top-up plan can really help in further offsetting your medical expenses.

Get your copy of the Top-Up Guide today

For a more in-depth overview on everything you need to know about top-up insurance in Shanghai or Beijing, be sure to get your free PDF copy by clicking on the link(s) below today:

If you have any more questions, or would like to learn about your top-up options in China, get in touch with our helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today. With years of experience offering impartial advice to expats in China, our experts are standing by to answer all your questions, match you with the best insurance solutions for your needs, and give you a free quote.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Health Insurance
New guide compares public and private Shanghai healthcare

New guide compares public and private Shanghai healthcare

If you’re new to the city, or looking to learn more about your Shanghai healthcare options, our new Public and Private Healthcare in Shanghai guide could prove to be a valuable resource in helping you find the best care possible. Best of all, the new free guide answers the top questions asked by expats moving to or living in Shanghai, and provides useful information on public vs private hospitals, what you can expect to pay at different facilities, the health insurance options available, and more.

Download Pacific Prime China’s latest guide from our Health Insurance Guides page today, or read on to learn more about our latest resource and what it covers.

Inside our Public and Private Healthcare in Shanghai guide

As the most populous city in China, Shanghai is home to a high number of public and private healthcare facilities, with many options catering to different budget and language requirements. The quality of care, however, can vary significantly depending on which facility you go to. This, coupled with the language barrier for non-Chinese speakers, can make it difficult for expats looking to find the best Shanghai healthcare. As such, we’ve created our new Public and Private Healthcare guide to demystify the healthcare options available to expats in the city.

Download our guide today to learn about:

  • The history of healthcare in China
  • The differences between public hospitals, VIP clinics, private hospitals, and international hospitals
  • The cost of care and your health insurance options
  • How to handle medical emergencies in Shanghai

Below, we take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions that our new Shanghai healthcare guide can help answer:

What are the main differences between public and private hospitals in Shanghai?

In Shanghai, there are several types of healthcare facilities to choose from:

Public hospitals and VIP clinics

As a first-tier city, Shanghai has a relatively modern healthcare infrastructure. Public hospital care is usually very affordable, but please be aware that the quality of care can vary significantly depending on which hospital you go to. Public facilities can also be very overcrowded, and are sometimes far less clean than what most Westerners are accustomed to. Coupled with long waiting times and a lack of English speaking doctors, it’s easy to see why most foreigners prefer seeking care at VIP clinics, private hospitals, or international hospitals.

Large public hospitals in Shanghai will have what are called VIP clinics, which are associated with public hospitals but often have English-speaking doctors, the ability to book an appointment with a preferred doctor, and more privacy. That said, VIP clinics often only operate during working hours, and charge higher fees than their non-VIP counterpart.

Private and international hospitals

As China started welcoming foreign investment in private hospitals, private care has continued to flourish around the country and in urban centers like Shanghai. Many private facilities have been outfitted with outstanding medical technology. Most expats prefer seeking treatment at private or foreign-run international hospitals to benefit from short waiting times, the ability to book appointments with a preferred doctor, world-class healthcare, and more comfortable hospital accommodation if inpatient care is required. Costs at private and international hospitals, however, easily cost over ten times the price charged for the same treatment at a public hospital. As such, health insurance is highly recommended.

What are my health insurance options?

While national health insurance coverage in China is near-universal, few foreign residents and expats have access to the same coverage benefits as Chinese citizens. Expats are therefore highly advised to secure either a local or international private health insurance policy.

What do I do during a medical emergency?

One of the most important things to prepare for when moving to Shanghai is, of course, what you need to do when faced with a medical emergency. You should be aware that private hospitals are prohibited from privately owning an ambulance fleet. Ambulances in Shanghai are managed by the Shanghai ambulance center with personnel who generally speak little to no English; and sometimes they can be slow to respond to emergency calls. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why many prefer to take a taxi when a medical emergency occurs.

Download our Public and Private Healthcare guide today

To get the answers to all your questions on healthcare in Shanghai, be sure to download our free guide here today. We’ve also released a whole host of other useful guides on health-insurance related topics, which you can access from our Health Insurance Guides page here.

Looking for more in-depth information on Shanghai healthcare, or your health insurance options? Be sure to get in touch with the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today, who can offer impartial advice, match you with the best plan based on your needs, and give you a free quote.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance, News