China featured in 2017 International Private Medical Insurance inflation report

Pacific Prime 2017 IPMI inflation report image

Pacific Prime China is excited to announce that our global partner Pacific Prime has released the 2017 annual edition of the International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) inflation report, which reveals the overall 2016 global premium inflation rate and presents analysis on premium prices charged by top IPMI plans offered by leading insurance providers in 10 key locations around the world. These countries are categorized into the following regions: Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Rest of World.

Presented in an easy to read format, this report is highly recommended for anyone interested in looking at how much they’re paying for IPMI, and should also be of high interest for insurers looking for information on premium prices in the various regions.

This article presents an overview of the findings from the latest IPMI inflation report. To access the report, click here for the website version, or click here to download your FREE PDF copy.

Key findings on global IPMI inflation

Pacific Prime’s report reveals that the average global IPMI inflation rate in 2016 was 9.2% – the exact same as the inflation rate in 2015. As shown in the graph below, the inflation rates observed in 2015 and 2016 have significantly increased from the 2014 inflation figure of 7.1%. The inflation rate in 2015 was around 5 percentage points higher than the average Consumer Price (CP) inflation rate in the countries included in this report – this remained consistent in 2016.

IPMI inflation in China

China has seen an increase in demand for quality healthcare services from the middle classes and an improved perception of health insurance. The average IPMI inflation figure in China hiked up to 12.06% in 2016 – 2.86% higher than the average global IPMI inflation rate, and a significant increase from China’s 2015 inflation rate of 9.5%. The trends impacting IPMI inflation in China include the maturing insurance market and growing government health regulations.

Key IPMI inflation drivers

As with the previous reports, the following 4 long term inflation drivers continue to make up a strong part of the explanation behind IPMI inflation:

  • New medical technology: The high costs of new medical technology research are usually passed onto patients by increasing healthcare fees, subsequently leading to inflating premium prices.
  • An imbalance of healthcare resources: Due to a range of factors including the ageing population, the imbalance of supply and demand for healthcare resources continues to increase – insurers cover the risks posed from growing demand by inflating premiums.
  • Increased compensation for healthcare professionals: The rising salaries of medical professionals are covered by rising healthcare costs, thus leading to the rise in premium prices.
  • Healthcare overutilization: There’s a growing trend towards the introduction of state-provided mandatory insurance in various regions, such as in the UAE. This has led to an increased strain on healthcare and an increase in the number of claims submitted, and insurers are responding to this by hiking up premiums.

The 2017 IPMI report has also identified 3 newly emerged trends driving premium inflation:

  • Global economic uncertainty: Global, regional, and domestic pressures have had an impact on the low economic growth observed in the countries included in this report, all of which influence IPMI through flow on effects. For example, China has experienced a growing resistance to foreign expat workers as GDP slows.
  • Changing population dynamics: The report has identified an expat “exodus” in some of the most popular expat locations, such as in Singapore and the UAE. Despite slowly dwindling expat numbers in certain regions, there’s an observable growth in demand for IPMI from increasingly wealthy local populations and high networth individuals (HNW).
  • Increasing availability of technology: Although technology has not yet had a significant impact on IPMI, Pacific Prime predicts this IPMI inflation driver will increase in force in the foreseeable future. For example, as the use of big data continues to become increasingly sophisticated, the management of insurance premium inflation may see an improvement in the years to come.

For a more in-depth analysis on the 2017 IPMI inflation report findings, you can view it here and download it for FREE here. If you’d like to have a chat with us, feel free to contact us today and one of our insurance advisors will be in touch shortly.

5 tips for getting the most out of your health checkup in China

Getting the most out of your health checkup

The importance of maintaining good health continues to take central precedence in the Chinese government’s reforms, and this has been exemplified in the “Healthy China 2030” blueprint released in October, which sets out to improve health literacy in the country. As reported by Xinhua News, Premier Li Keqiang has announced in the Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion that the current average life expectancy in China is 76.3, beating many middle and high income countries.

With the Healthy China initiative, China hopes to raise the average life expectancy to 79 by 2030. In ensuring that this ambitious goal is reached, the Chinese government has been distributing brochures offering health advice to the public by advocating healthy habits, chief among them being the importance of regular health checkups.

As the age-old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Undergoing regular checkups is important in helping you identify any health concerns you may have before they develop into long term chronic illnesses. With new year’s just around the corner, it’s time to include regular medical exams in your resolutions! This article by Pacific Prime China reveals how to get the most out of your health checkup.

Be prepared for your checkup

To get the most out of your checkup, there are a few things you can do before your appointment so that your doctor can better address any specific areas of concern you may have:

  • Notify your clinic/ doctor about problem areas that you’re concerned about before your appointment. By doing so, your doctor will be better prepared for your checkup beforehand and can then adjust the duration of your appointment accordingly.
  • Prepare previous health records if you’re visiting the clinic for the first time. This can help your doctor by providing key insights on your medical history.
  • Be prepared to provide information on your family’s health history. Do certain diseases run in your family? It may be a good idea to write these down, especially if it’s your first time visiting a particular clinic.
  • Think about questions you may have regarding your body. Have you noticed anything unusual, like new moles or lumps on your body? It’s worth jotting these down.
  • Prepare a list of medications that you’ve been taking – it’s important to let your doctor know what medications you are on, including non-prescription drugs like supplements. This may help reduce the chances of negative interactions between any newly introduced medications and your current medication.

Don’t forget cancer screenings

With regular cancer screenings, any abnormal cells that may turn into cancer will be detected. It may be daunting to undergo these screenings, but detecting any abnormalities as early as possible can really save your life. Here are some of the most common types of cancer screenings:

  • Mammograms to detect breast cancer.
  • Pap test (for women) to identify abnormal cells that may turn into cervical cancer.
  • Screening tests for colon cancer – this is especially important for adults above 50 years old, people with a family history of colon cancer, and people with inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Low-dose computed tomography scans to detect lung cancer. This is especially recommended for people with a history of heavy smoking.

Don’t hesitate to address any embarrassing symptoms

Some people prefer to avoid talking about embarrassing symptoms or illnesses as they consider these a social taboo, but it’s important to be as honest as possible. Doctors deal with and talk about these problem areas every day and are there to provide their professional help. If you’re feeling too uncomfortable, it might help to invite a close friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment.

Mental health is also important

With 180 million people in China suffering from psychiatric disorders, there’s a pressing need to address mental health issues in this country. If you’ve been feeling particularly stressed or unhappy, don’t forget to mention this during your checkup, as your doctor can help refer you to a relevant professional so that, if appropriate, you can proceed with therapy and other forms of treatment.

Make sure your health insurance plan covers checkups

Checkups can be expensive (especially in private and international hospitals), which is why it’s important to check if this is covered by your health insurance plan. Some plans may only cover a percentage of the cost of the checkup, and other plans may cover only basic checkups. Another thing to be aware of is your plan’s preferred network of providers. If you’re going to a clinic that is not listed under your plan’s in-network, you will likely face issues when filing claims.

If you’re unsure of what exactly is covered by your plan or would like some further information, feel free to contact us today.

A newcomer’s guide to health insurance in China

Newcomer's guide to health insurance in China blog

Welcome to China! As part of your settling-in process, you will no doubt have many arrangements to consider once you’ve moved here, healthcare being a factor that will likely take central precedence.

After the Chinese government started allowing investment in private hospitals from foreign entities in 2012, the quality of medical care in China continues to flourish. Government spending within the healthcare sector is expected to reach US $1 trillion by 2020, which is a stark contrast from the 2011 figure of US $357 billion.

While it is not a legal requirement to purchase health insurance in China, most expats will find the need for a private health insurance plan so that they can enjoy coverage for the high cost of superior medical care charged in private facilities. Navigating through the diverse range of available health insurance options can be daunting for anyone, but Pacific Prime China is here to help with this handy newcomer’s guide.

Background on healthcare in China

It’s highly advised that any expat looking for health insurance in China are aware of the healthcare landscape in this country.

Common health problems in China

It might be scary to think about, but all expats in China should be aware of the common health problems faced by people living in this country. For example, air pollution is a big issue in major cities, with an average of 90 out of every 100,000 projected premature deaths in the 31 provincial capitals caused by diseases specific to air pollution, such as lung cancer and ischemic heart disease. Due to urbanization, and changes in diet and lifestyle, a number of other non-communicable diseases (e.g. diabetes) are also on the rise. With this in mind, it’s also important to know about medical treatment costs in China.

Medical treatment can be costly

Expats will tend to visit private or international hospitals to benefit from modern care that is comparable to the West, but this comes with a steep price tag. A trip to the GP at one of these facilities can easily set you back by RM ¥1,200 to ¥1,500, with prices charged for specialist appointments being significantly more expensive.

Expect to pay around ¥50,000 for an emergency surgical procedure and up to an astounding ¥98,000 for a C-section maternity package. Sometimes, the requirement for medical treatment can’t be planned (especially in the case of emergencies) so having that additional ‘safety net’ by securing a private health insurance policy may save you from breaking the bank.

Coverage levels available in China

All insurance plans will provide varying levels of coverage, below are the main types of coverage:

  • Inpatient only: With an inpatient only benefit, you will be covered for overnight treatment at a hospital, but will not be covered for outpatient treatment such as day trips to the GP. Inpatient care is typically the most expensive, so being secured with this type of benefit can really save you a lot of money. The premiums charged for inpatient only plans are usually the cheapest, as it comes with the least amount of coverage.
  • Inpatient + outpatient: This type of plan includes coverage for both inpatient and outpatient care, so you’ll also be covered for medical care that does not require overnight stays at a hospital. Policyholders with this type of coverage will often also be covered for preventative care check-ups, tests, and vaccinations. Please note that premiums charged for this type of plan will typically be higher than an inpatient only plan.
  • Full coverage: If you’re looking for additional benefits on top of your inpatient and outpatient plan, then it’s a good idea to look out for full coverage plans offering add-ons such as maternity, vision, and dental cover. Insurance providers often refer to these additional benefits as “riders”. These benefits will usually come with a waiting period, also commonly referred to as a moratorium period, meaning that there will be a set period of time before the policyholder can make any claims on the benefit.

Local or international health insurance?

When shopping around for health insurance in China, you’ll also have to think about whether you want to purchase a local or international plan. Here’s what you need to know about each type of plan:

Local health insurance

As the name suggests, this type of insurance will cover you locally (in China). Some plans may even only provide coverage in one particular province or state.  This means that if you’re travelling overseas and want to be covered for treatment, you will need to buy a travel policy. Please note that for travel policies, coverage limits are usually very low, and they typically cover emergency treatments and repatriation costs only. Premiums for this type of policy are lower than international plans simply because the region of coverage is much lower.

International health insurance

If you’re looking for worldwide coverage, this type of plan is ideal for you. International plans are designed specifically for globally mobile expats, as it provides a great deal of flexibility in where you can be treated. For example, if you were to seek treatment in a country that may not be as medically advanced, an international plan will cover your medical fees if you decided to seek treatment in a country with more advanced healthcare instead. Please note that the majority of international health plans will not comply with the US Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulations, so if you’re a US taxpayer, you may want to consider an ACA compliant international plan.

Talk to a licensed insurance advisor

A respected insurance advisor like Pacific Prime China will offer a wealth of expertise as well as unbiased advice that will be very valuable in helping you find the best value deal available. Reputed insurance brokers have close relationships with leading insurance providers, meaning that they will be able to provide competitive rates that can sometimes be cheaper than going directly to an insurance company. There’s also the added bonus of benefiting from additional services often provided by brokers, such as dedicated customer services support and renewals teams.

If you’re looking for advice on health insurance in China, feel free to contact us or use our online tool to compare quotes today.