Group Health Insurance

Health insurance articles for businesses, group managers, HR teams, and business owners.

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
How Pacific Prime helps you to find the best employee benefits

How Pacific Prime helps you to find the best employee benefits

One of the best ways to attract and retain the best talent in your industry is to offer an attractive benefits package. Yes, compensation is a key part of this but simply offering competitive pay won’t lead to happy employees. These days, you need to go further and implement a more multi-faceted employee benefits program. But, how exactly do you do this and what does a successful benefits solution look like?

To help answer these questions, the corporate team at Pacific Prime China has put together two new flyers that look at our corporate solutions in Beijing and Shanghai. You can download these flyers for free today from our website:

  • Click here for our Beijing flyer
  • Click here for our Shanghai flyer

Who is Pacific Prime China?

Pacific Prime China has been in operation since 2000 when our headquarters in Hong Kong was opened. We opened our first Shanghai office in 2003 and to meet increasing demand in the country, we have recently opened an office in Beijing.

Since our launch, we have helped over 500,000 people find and secure quality health insurance coverage, as well as over 2,000 companies, select and manage quality employee benefits solutions that are built upon health insurance.

We strive to work with businesses of all sizes. In fact, of the 2,000+ companies in our portfolio, you will find leading multinational corporations, regional companies, international schools, and an ever-increasing number of small to medium enterprises.

For each of these companies, we help them to identify, secure, and manage a comprehensive employee benefits package that includes a variety of components discussed below. Together, this has led to 150,000+ employees receiving quality, reliable benefits.

What employee benefits solutions do we offer?

Regardless of the size of your business or team, Pacific Prime China’s corporate team can help you with your employee benefits. For each and every corporate client, we assign a dedicated team of advisors and support staff who strive to manage every aspect of your benefits solution thereby making it easier for you or your HR team to focus on your business.

When it comes to employee benefits, we believe that having a robust group insurance solution is the foundation of any successful benefits solution. To that end, our teams help you find the best coverage for your business. From there, we offer a range of other employee benefits and corporate solutions. These include:

  • Tailored employee wellness programs – Leveraging your base health insurance solution we can help tailor a wellness program to your staff’s requirements. From in-office health checkups and flu shots to ergonomic workstations and chiropractic visits, we can help arrange it all.
  • Business insurance – We offer a variety of insurance solutions designed to cover your business. From professional liability cover to property casualty, business interruption, and more we can ensure your business is covered. If you work in specific industries we can also ensure your coverage meets current regulations.  
  • Travel insurance – Cover your employees while they are out of the country.
  • Group life insurance – An increasingly popular benefit being demanded in China, our team can help you secure a group life plan that covers your employees and their families.
  • Multijurisdictional management – If you have offices in other provinces or countries we can help coordinate between them, ensuring that you have a comparable solution in each location, all managed centrally by your corporate advisors at Pacific Prime.

We don’t just stop at helping you find the right employee benefits solution. Unlike many other brokers, our teams are here to support you and your employees throughout the life of your solution. This unparalleled level of support helps to ensure that we maintain long lasting relationships with all of our clients.

How do we ensure you get the best package?

With a nearly infinite number of solutions out there, it can be hard to identify the “best” employee benefits solution for your company. As mentioned above, this is where Pacific Prime can help. Our experts work with you to identify your coverage needs and suggest options that will work best.

In order to do this, we have developed a unique service and support model that leverages what we refer to as a ‘broker framework’. This framework is comprised of three elements:

  • Consulting  
  • Policy broking  
  • Plan administration  

Together, these three elements allow us to offer the following services to all corporate clients:   

  • Analysis of market competitiveness
  • Employee claims and benefits assistance
  • Management reporting
  • Members orientations
  • Renewal processing
  • Plan design and cost control assistance
  • Annual benchmarking
  • Invoicing and account reconciliation
  • And more

By leveraging the above we work with you to identify and manage a solution that is right for your business.

To learn more about the corporate solutions we offer in China, check out our Beijing and Shanghai corporate flyers today, or contact us.

Posted by rmcbroom in Group Health Insurance
3 tips for a successful employee wellness program in China

3 tips for a successful employee wellness program in China

Around the world, there has been a noticeable increase in demand for employee wellness benefits. With more and more corporations implementing value-added wellness benefits (e.g. smoking cessation programs) that go above and beyond standard medical insurance benefits, there has truly been a shift in the ways in which businesses are competing for and retaining top talent. But, why have corporate wellness programs become so popular? The advantages of adopting a wellness program at every company, no matter the size, demographic, or location are manifold.

Many companies with a wellness program in place are reaping the benefits of not only a healthier workforce, but also improved job satisfaction and overall productivity, a significant reduction in absenteeism, as well as the ability to save money on healthcare expenses. To illustrate this further, research cited by Forbes found that every USD 1 invested in employee wellness programs yields an average of USD 4 in savings as a result of reduced sick leave days, increased productivity and an overall decrease in healthcare costs. Today, we look at 3 top tips for implementing a successful corporate wellness program.

Employee wellness in China

Healthcare expenditure in China is hiking rapidly, with costs expected to reach USD 1 trillion by 2020. With more and more middle and upper classes working in offices, long days and even weekends spent sitting at the computer, coupled with stress, a lack of work-life balance, and the increased consumption of pre-packaged foods, China is experiencing a nationwide health problem.

For instance, over 100 million Chinese people today are either overweight or obese, and over 100 million of the population have been diagnosed with diabetes. What’s more, China holds roughly 27 percent of the world’s cancer cases. With this in mind, it’s no surprise why a growing number of employers in China are recognizing the importance of reducing their financial burden and finding ways to boost the health of their employees.

As revealed by Cigna’s global survey, titled: Working well: A global survey of health promotion and workplace wellness strategies, 54% of surveyed Chinese employers have had a workplace health promotion program in place for five years or less. Compared with employers in North America and other parts of the world, the concept of workplace wellness is however still relatively new for a lot of local employers in China. That said, there has been an encouraging trend towards employers recognizing the importance of employee health and their physical and psychosocial working environment.

3 tips for bolstering your employee wellness program

One of the top questions that companies looking to put a corporate wellness program in place will usually ask is: What kind of wellness program should I implement? As every company is different, let’s look at the things you should focus on before you make your final decision.

A wellness program that meets the diverse needs of employees

The most important aspect of implementing any HR policy is to first address what your employees actually want and need. According to American Express, the key to success in implementing corporate wellness programs is to have a customized plan that aligns with the needs of the employees and the individual company culture. But, how do you figure out what your employees truly need? The only way to know for sure is by communicating with your employees, and asking them what they want.

An article by Human Resources Online presents an example of a successful corporate wellness program that is contextualized to the unique needs of employees is a wellness strategy implemented by Australian fashion retailer Cotton On Group. With over 1,500 stores in 19 countries, Cotton On Group recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach is likely not going to work in maximizing employee satisfaction. Instead, through focus groups, surveys, and general observations, the health and wellbeing department is constantly working on delivering programs that remain relevant.

The company’s operations in Asia span four different countries, meaning that country-specific medical plans, counselling, and cultural events are required. For example, the country hub office in Singapore held yoga sessions and offered massages for team members before they take on Lunar New Year trade. What’s more, in order to cater to the specific needs of all individual team members, Cotton On Group further implemented one-on-one health and wellbeing coaching as well as personal training sessions at in-house gyms.

Luke McLean, the health and wellbeing manager at Cotton On Group believes that their employee wellness initiatives have seen enhanced teamwork and productivity, as well as a greater sense of optimism, which in effect has meant that their employees are able to “perform at their personal best every day”.

Give employees the power of choice

There are many benefits and features that may be offered by your potential wellness program, including but not limited to:

  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Counselling
  • Weight loss programs
  • Yoga sessions
  • Meditation
  • Stress management
  • Life coaching
  • Company outings
  • Company-wide tournaments
  • Family-at-work activities (e.g. “little ones at work”)
  • Charity fundraising events

Not all wellness benefits will be relevant to all individual employees, which is why it is important to offer a selection of benefits so that your employees can customize their wellness plans and opt for the benefits that appeal to them the most. For example, some employees may choose particular features that specifically address their weight management and smoking needs, while employees who are focused on maintaining or adopting an active lifestyle will likely be more interested in attending competitive sport tournaments.

Starting with a comprehensive wellness plan

As each team member comes with different interests, lifestyles, as well as health and wellness needs, in order to implement a successful wellness program it is important to start with a comprehensive and flexible program that appeals to the vast majority of the workforce and also meets your organization’s budget requirements. Of course, it can be hard to go through all the possible wellness offerings out there and do a full review of the market, which is why often times the ideal wellness plan is overlooked. As such, consulting an experienced insurance broker can really save you the time and effort in finding the best corporate wellness plan.

Serving a diverse group of clients in China since 2003, Pacific Prime China helps you find the best wellness plan for your organization’s needs at no extra cost vs the insurance company. As employee benefits specialists, we do all the work for you by saving you time to find the ideal plan that delivers the best value for money year-on-year. What’s more, our close relationships with all major insurance companies ensures that we have the competitive advantage when it comes to negotiating premiums at renewal time.

Interested in learning more or securing an employee wellness program for your business? Be sure to contact the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today for unbiased advice, as well as a free price quote and plan comparison!

Posted by Jess in Group Health Insurance
Top 5 insurance requirement considerations for sending employees overseas

Top 5 insurance requirement considerations for sending employees overseas

Sending workers overseas represents a huge responsibility for employers, which is why proper planning and following the right insurance requirements can, quite literally, save lives.

While working abroad can be a very exciting opportunity for expats, employees will likely find themselves feeling vulnerable to a myriad of potential pitfalls when working in unfamiliar locations – and not least in terms of healthcare and safety risks. As such, safeguarding your employees overseas is imperative, not just as a legal and moral obligation but also as a social responsibility.

The need to follow the right insurance requirements when sending employees overseas is widely known. Despite this, a recent UK-based survey cited in the International Travel & Health Insurance Journal found that only 7.8 percent of business owners are aware of the insurance requirements for sending employees overseas. What’s more, the majority of respondents (67.3 percent) said they did not know the insurance requirements, while 24.9 percent said they weren’t entirely sure of the requirements.

To clear up some of the uncertainty around insurance requirements and sending your employees abroad, today we look at the following 5 important factors you should consider before you send your workers overseas.

1. Check up on regional insurance requirements

To ensure that your employees are protected from hefty medical bills abroad, health insurance coverage is essential. An important thing to consider here is whether there are any health insurance requirements in your employee’s destination country, as many countries are seeing increased implementation of health insurance regulations. For instance, the issue and renewal of employment visas in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is conditional upon proof at the time of application that the employer has in place appropriate health insurance for their employee.

2. Relying on local healthcare: Is it enough?

Relying on local healthcare systems can be a mixed bag, and really depends on the type of system the government provides. For example:

  • The UK’s NHS system offers free, state funded health cover at virtually no cost for a vast majority of their healthcare services.
  • Expats living in France are eligible to apply for the French national health insurance scheme – Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU) – which covers around 80% of medical treatment costs.
  • EEA citizens can also apply for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which provides free or discounted access to public healthcare when visiting a country within the EEA.
  • Some countries share reciprocal healthcare agreements with other countries. E.g., the Australian government has reciprocal healthcare agreements with 11 countries, meaning that Australian residents can access essential medical treatment when in these countries, and vice versa for residents of those countries visiting Australia.

It’s important to note here that even if your employee has the option of availing these local healthcare benefits, relying on these benefits alone in many cases may not be sufficient, especially for those on mid-to-long term secondments or expatriation. If that’s the case, we strongly advise securing international group health insurance, especially for businesses in multiple offices in different locations and employees who travel between them. This is even more essential for employees moving to countries with a poor quality of healthcare and are not eligible for care from local facilities.

3. Travel insurance or international insurance?

While travel insurance can be ideal for employees on short international assignments or visiting conferences, it likely won’t be the right type of plan for staff on mid-to-long term secondments or expatriation. This is because travel insurance often comes with much lower coverage limits than international health insurance, and is designed only to see the policyholder well enough to fly them back to their home country. On the other hand, international plans are designed for globally mobile expats and offer far more extensive medical coverage in both your employee’s home country and abroad. It’s also more customizable with options to add dental, maternity, vision and other wellness benefits at an extra premium.

4. Does your employer’s liability policy cover staff overseas?

In China, many businesses choose to secure additional employer’s liability insurance in excess of the compensation under the nation’s Work-related Injury Insurance regulation promulgated by the Social Security Administration Department of the State council. The important thing to note here is that many employers’ liability policies will not cover employees who work overseas for extended periods of time. Another thing to be aware of here is whether you’ll need to take out additional country-specific employer’s liability insurance to cover your workers in the event that they sustain any work-related injuries overseas.

5. Seek advice from an experienced broker

Virtually every corporate health insurance and business insurance plan out there is different, which is why it can be tough to find the appropriate cover for your business and your employees’ needs. As such, it pays to seek professional, impartial advice from insurance experts like Pacific Prime China. With extensive industry experience, we’ll do the research for you and provide you with market intelligence that puts you in the best position whenever you’re faced with a decision regarding your corporate coverage.

Got any more questions regarding group medical solutions and corporate insurance? Get in touch with the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today.

Posted by Jess in Group Health Insurance
Avoid these 5 common corporate health insurance mistakes

Avoid these 5 common corporate health insurance mistakes

In China, as in many other countries, attracting and retaining the best employees can provide companies with an edge over their competitors. While there are many different tactics you can employ to ensure that your staff are the best, there is one that is increasingly in demand by almost all employees: company-sponsored health insurance plans. Having a company health plan can bring a variety of benefits, most notably increased productivity and decreased sick leave, both of which directly impact a company’s bottom line. However, if the plan is not implemented correctly there could be a negative impact on your Return on Investment. If you are looking to avoid this when you implement your plan here are five common corporate health insurance mistakes you should avoid.

Mistake #1: Not implementing the right coverage

Sure, this might seem like it’s pretty obvious: Not selecting the right coverage will inevitably result in poor plan performance and poor satisfaction with the plan. But the problem is, it is easier said than done to select the best plan for your employees. There are a huge number of factors involved in corporate health insurance, factors that all need to be considered and addressed in order to not only identify but also implement coverage.

In short, a lot can go wrong and while a lot can be done to avoid this mistake there is one thing that is absolutely important that you get right: the type of insurance coverage you secure.

In China, there are two types of private health insurance plans available to secure:

  • Local health insurance plans – Plans designed to provide cover of healthcare in China only.
  • International health insurance plans – Plans designed to provide cover not only in China but also worldwide.

The core concept of these two types of plans is similar: They provide coverage of most health care employees will pursue. It is important to note here that these plans are on top of the social insurance scheme that all employers and employees need to pay into.

The major difference between the plans is not only in the area they cover, but the fact that international health insurance plans tend to have higher coverage limits which allow employees to seek care at more expensive and higher quality private medical facilities.

From our experience, the major mistake made by companies here is that they don’t select the right level of coverage for their employees. For example, if you have employees who travel frequently for work a local health insurance plan will not cover them outside of China. If they get sick, they will have to pay for care out of their own pocket. It would be better to secure them international coverage.

Mistake #2: Assuming your plan covers pre-existing conditions

This is a common corporate health insurance mistake made by companies all over the world as historically, group plans have included what insurers refer to as a ‘Medical History Disregard’ or MHD. This clause means that insurers will not consider a person’s existing medical conditions when they join the plan. In other words, your pre-existing conditions are covered.

This is different from individual plans which normally do not cover pre-existing conditions. The mistake here however, is assuming that the MHD is automatically included in any group health insurance plan.

The truth here is that many insurers will usually only consider adding MHD to group plans that cover over a certain number of people, usually between 10 and 20. So, if you are selecting a group plan for say nine of your employees, you should carefully read the plan details provided by the insurer or ask your broker about MHD and whether it is covered.

In some cases, you might be able to negotiate with the insurer to have it added to your plan, but it might come with a higher premium.  

Mistake #3: Not understanding the eligibility requirements of the plan

Health insurers who offer corporate health insurance plans often include what’s called compulsory membership. This clause states that all employees of the same level must be added to the plan.

For example, if you implement a plan with local coverage for your middle managers then all middle managers will be required by the insurer to join the plan.

The mistake companies often make here is that they don’t fully understand how this clause works or that it is actually included in the plan.

To avoid this, it is important that you read the plan documentation and ask the insurer whether this clause is included and how it works as some insurers will define it differently. Beyond that, in many cases you might be able to actually negotiate with the insurer over this clause. For example, if they say that all employees must be covered you might be able to negotiate so that only employees at a certain level need to join the plan.

Mistake #4: Leaving employees out of the selection process

One of the key success factors of any group health insurance plan is whether your employees feel it is valuable and will use it. The mistake here is that companies don’t involve the employees when selecting a plan and ultimately implement a plan that is not used by staff, or doesn’t meet their needs.

If a plan is not utilized, you are essentially throwing good money after bad and could actually end up losing money. To avoid this, it is a good idea to discuss with employees about what they want in terms of coverage and what they need. From there you can set expectations and look for plans that meet the majority of their needs.

Mistake #5: Going with the cheapest option

These days, businesses often operate on increasingly thin margins and when managers go to implement a health insurance plan there might be a bit of sticker shock around the actual up-front cost. This can often lead to businesses going with the cheapest option available.

Businesses that have pursued this strategy have often found that it ends up costing them more in the long run. For example, cheaper plans might have lower levels of service meaning that if there are claims issues or concerns you might need to spend a fair amount of time dealing with them instead of focusing on more important things like running your business.

What’s more, plans that are cheap now might see a massive jump in premium in the near future as insurers realize that they don’t have enough premiums available to cover claims. You could quickly find that your cheap plan is now the most expensive option.

How can I avoid these corporate health insurance mistakes?

One of the best ways to ensure that you find the right corporate health insurance plan for your employees and your company is to work with a broker like Pacific Prime China. Our team of dedicated corporate advisors can help you identify your insurance needs and then select, implement, and even manage a solution that works for your business.

To learn more about how we can help, contact us today.

Posted by rmcbroom in Group Health Insurance