Group Health Insurance

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

Company Benefits: Why using an insurance broker is the superior choice

Company Benefits: Why using an insurance broker is the superior choice

It’s that time again. The time for businesses to start planning ahead and ensuring that their company benefits in 2018 are addressed and ready to go. This is because many insurance companies raise their rates at the beginning of a new year. Due to this, companies the world over need to revisit their company benefits – including group health insurance policies, wellness plans, and more – to see if they are getting the right value from their current plan, or if rising costs might lead to searching for a new benefits provider.

This can be quite a demanding task on Human Resources staff, decision makers, and other plan administrators, so where can they turn for help? Well, those that currently do not work with an insurance brokerage may find that partnering with one can really take a load off of the shoulders of in-house staff when it comes to purchasing or renewing company benefits. How can an insurance broker help? Pacific Prime China discusses the topic here.

Company benefits challenges for your staff

At Pacific Prime, we recognize the juggling act that Human Resources staff must perform on a daily basis. After all, we work with thousands of different businesses and organizations, and work with their HR and support staff every day. Not only do they have to deal with local, as well as international, compliance issues and regulations, they are often also responsible for payroll, staff insurance and benefit issues, and employee morale more generally. To be sure, it can be a job with broad demands. Fortunately, while upper level management may or may not be sympathetic to the plight of the HR team member, there is a surefire way to relieve some of the burden HR employees can feel due to their workload: Work with a established and trusted insurance broker like Pacific Prime China!

Being a Jack or Jill of many-if-not-all trades in the HR world comes with the territory, and truly specializing in any one aspect of Human Resources work can be virtually impossible. With this in mind, let’s examine some of the ways that an experienced insurance broker can help.

Saving the legwork of finding the best company benefits plan

Perhaps the #1 benefit of working with a broker is that the broker will work with a number of different providers in your area. This enables them to present you with an overview of available plans from different providers, the details of which each one covers, and the prices for each plan. Not only will this allow your company compare available options and see the real differences between plans, it also saves HR staff from doing a ton of legwork to obtain quotes from numerous insurance companies one at a time.

Answers and insights

Working with an insurance broker, at least in the case of Pacific Prime China, is so much more than just having someone find an insurance plan for you. Our staff will continue to make themselves available to your company for as long as your company is a member. In fact, a dedicated team will be appointed to your business, and your company will always be able to reach out to them with whatever questions about your company benefits you may have.

Not only this, but with an insurance broker you will know that you are getting unbiased answers, rather than answers from the insurer, who ultimately has their own bottom line at heart. Insurance brokers depend on great relationships with their customers to thrive, so your company is our priority.

Less work for your back office

We alluded to it before, but working with an insurance broker can actually remove some time consuming tasks from your HR team’s proverbial plate. This includes items such as plan administration, claims processing, reporting to your company’s leadership team, data analysis and more. A good insurance broker can even handle liaising, negotiating, and more generally communicating with your insurance provider where you don’t have to. What’s more, even when you switch providers, your insurance broker can remain a constant service provider for you as you transition.

Data reporting and analysis

Analyzing your claims and determining your plans value via a fair loss ratio can make all the difference in the world when it comes to fighting back against raising premiums each year. If you want to properly be able to negotiate with your insurance company, you need to arm yourself with knowledge. Another great aspect of using an insurance broker is that we can handle most, if not all, of this work on your behalf, and even step in to the negotiation process if it seems the insurance company is trying to raise premiums beyond what should be considered reasonable.

Accessibility

Keep in mind that not all insurance brokers are created equal. While some have the manpower to provide you with service year round, you will no doubt find that there are also brokers that only really have the resources to focus on their clients around purchase and/or renewal time. With Pacific Prime China, you get the benefit of working with a large and well established broker with hundreds of employees and numerous global offices. We will always be available to your company when you need us.

Let Pacific Prime save your HR team time and effort

Now that you know a bit more about why using an insurance broker may be the right choice for your company benefits, make sure you don’t forget (or even share the info with your friends) by keeping the Pacific Prime corporate flyer for Shanghai and Beijing. This quick and handy guide reviews some of the key details covered in this article and more, making it easy to share the benefits of utilizing an insurance broker to your peers and colleagues.

The very bottom line is that working with an insurance broker will not (or at least should not) cost your company anything extra beyond what you would normally pay for health insurance. When you consider this and look at all the added value that a experienced, professional insurance broker can provide, it’s easy to see why so many companies opt for the extra layer of service afforded by a broker.

If you would like to free up some of your HR staff’s valuable time and resources, contact us today! We’ll gladly examine your current plan, provide options of the best plans available to your company, and provide you with a free quote.

Posted by Travis Jones in Group Health Insurance
Company health insurance gaps: what doesn’t my employee benefits plan cover for my staff?

Company health insurance gaps: what doesn’t my employee benefits plan cover for my staff?

Offering your employees health insurance is a common standard. Employer’s know that attracting the best talent requires competitive compensation and benefits packages that set them apart from their peers. Employee benefits and corporate health insurance plans are easy enough to find, but ensuring they’re viewed as valuable by current and potential staff can be a challenge. Often, there will be hidden company health insurance gaps that can surprise employees when they need the support the most.

Recently, an article in Hong Kong found that 60% of people expected GP visits to be included in their employer-provided health insurance plan, but only 18% of people actually received such coverage. This week, Pacific Prime China discusses what you should look for in an effective employee benefits package, and what advice and options you can offer to staff where the coverage leaves them open.

Common company health insurance gaps

Fully comprehensive coverage is expensive, which is why most employers won’t provide staff with plans that will cover every health eventuality. Company health insurance gaps are not active decisions made to lessen the effectiveness of a plan to its member, but simply a way for a company to offer a benefit within its budget while the insurer mitigates risk. In our almost two decades of providing corporate employee benefits solutions, we’ve found some common gaps can include:

  • No dental coverage
  • No maternity benefits
  • Lack of portability (ability for an employee to maintain coverage after leaving employment)
  • Low levels of in-patient benefits
  • Low or no out-patient coverage
  • Acute treatment focused, little to no focus on preventative medicine
  • Restrictions on patient choice regarding providers and specialists
  • Coverage limited to China, or even a specific city (e.g. Shanghai)

It can also be common for employees to find restrictive coverage for some serious illnesses, particularly ones that can require ongoing care. Dialysis or chemotherapy, for example, can be costly for insurers to cover, so either including such benefits can mean a higher premium for a business to pay. If that price is too high, then your staff can find themselves left without support for such treatments should they develop a serious chronic condition.

That said, companies do need to draw the line somewhere. You obviously want to support your staff the best you can, but it’s often just not financially feasible or responsible to buy the best plan in the market. Understanding everyone’s options in a situation like this can be the best, first step you can take to ensuring everyone gets the employee health insurance outcomes they desire.

What are my options as an employer?

If you find that there are company health insurance gaps that are likely to affect your staff, then you have a few options available to you:

Extend your coverage Change your provider Self-insurance Do nothing
At likely a higher cost to your business, you can negotiate with your employee benefits provider to extend coverage to meet your staff needs. It will likely make your staff happy, but will it be sustainable for you? While your current corporate health insurance provider might not cover what your staff need at a reasonable price, another might. But you’ll incur the costs and inconveniences associated with changing providers. If leaving a staff member to deal with their issue themselves is not an option, and extending coverage is too expensive, it might be better for your business to cover the costs of care directly. Sometimes it’s just not feasible to take on the responsibility for the total health and wellbeing of your staff.

The right answer will depend very much on your business, your staff, and what your goals are when providing employee benefits and health insurance.

What can my staff do to help themselves?

Where corporate health insurance gaps are impacting the needs and requirements of staff, there are also options available to them to support themselves. The first can be to buy a whole new plan outright. Yes, it will be a direct cost to them, and the premium will generally be a lot higher than what your company would pay per person for a group employee benefits package. However, some people may find that their specific needs just won’t fit with a group insurance plan.

A middle option, however, is to educate your employees on top-up insurance. Top-up products, or supplementary health insurance plans, work to fill in the gaps that can be left by employer-provided coverage. They can work to provide coverage where it doesn’t currently exist, to add additional benefits beyond what the group plan provides, and even to offer more options up to an individual who needs to seek medical attention. This can include adding dental, maternity, and vision coverage options should they need it.

two businessmen discuss company health insurance gaps in a bright room over a tablet

If your staff are a diverse group of people at different points in their lives, then it’s highly likely that their employee benefits needs will differ from person-to-person. Top-up insurance can be a great way for staff to tailor relevant extensions to the coverage you provide so that they’re only truly paying for the benefits they need – and nothing they don’t. To help your staff understand what their top-up options might be, feel free to send them these free download links, or send them the PDF files yourself:

We designed these to help people make a better and more informed decision when it comes to closing corporate health insurance gaps in China. Best of all, our resources are completely free!

I’d like to talk to someone about my employee benefits plan

Understanding what gaps exist in your corporate health insurance plan can be tricky. Often, businesses won’t know where their plans are less supportive until a staff member runs into a problem making a claim. The best way to make sure you’ve got the right plan for your staff needs is to engage the services of an experienced and expert employee benefits broker.

Pacific Prime China is an expert in both group and individual health insurance, specializing in providing high-quality employee benefits solutions to professional service firms, and other corporate clients. Not only can we help you find the right coverage to meet your business and staff needs, but we can also help your staff extend the coverage you offer through their own top-up insurance plans. Best of all, we offer full plan support to both your business and the individual; meaning you’ll all have only one place to go for all your insurance needs.

Have us around for a meeting, and we’ll explain why we’re the broker of choice for many businesses in Asia, the Middle East, and around the world. We’re leaders in what we do, and all we do is centred around our clients. To discuss what your current plan does and doesn’t support, what your competitors might be offering, and what your options are to stay competitive, contact the team at Pacific Prime China today!

Posted by Luther in Group Health Insurance
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
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