Employees in Hong Kong Demand Better Health Benefits, Against the Backdrop of Rising Medical Costs

May 3, 20168:35 am
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Despite innovations in talent acquisition, increased mobility and world sourcing, demand for talent in Hong Kong still outstrips supply.

To attract and retain talent, companies need to offer better health benefits than ever before, while at the same time facing the challenges presented by rising medical costs, according to Mercer’s “Hong Kong Employee Health and Benefits Survey 2015”.

According to the annual survey, which canvasses more than 180,000 employees from 650 companies across 25 industries, the number of companies providing maternity and medical check-up benefits to employees has increased significantly over the past four years.

Furthermore, the number of companies providing medical check-up benefits has increased by 14% in three years, to 59% in 2015. The data shows that 25% of the surveyed companies provide maternity benefits to employees, compared to 20% in 2012.

Last year, we saw a 10% increase in critical illness benefits up from 4% in 2014. Dependent coverage in particular is becoming more common in Hong Kong, with almost 70% of companies providing outpatient, inpatient and dental benefits to the dependents. Around 95% of those companies provide equal coverage to both dependents and employees.

Dilemma of Achieving Market Competitiveness or Employee Satisfaction

In order to provide the right mix of benefits to achieve both market competitiveness and employee satisfaction, a financial burden has been created in the form of rising medical costs.

The increase in medical costs has become a concern to 86% of the surveyed companies, which has led them to look for more sustainable ways to ease the burden, rather than just chasing discounts from insurance service providers.

In order to avoid hefty medical benefits eating into total payroll costs, companies are seeking effective cost-containment measures. In particular, many companies have implemented panel arrangements and Employee Wellness Programs, and the number of programs like these has increased by 12% and 16% respectively, up 55% on 2015.

See: Temporary Work is a More Attractive Option for Employees in Hong Kong

There is no single, winning program

Most employers are looking for the right solution to address health issues and related decreases in engagement and productivity. Unfortunately, too many organizations are implementing programs that are passive in nature and with limited experience or guidance. As a result, most programs fail to generate the material impact that organizations are looking for.

Workplace health and wellness cannot be effectively managed with band aid solutions. Engagement, motivation, support and strategy are critical to ensure success. With numerous Employee Wellness Programs available in the market, progressive companies have realized that they need to look at their employee data, such as the average age and sex ratio, to tailor the best program.

For example, companies with a majority of female population may offer health seminars around stress management during pregnancy and nutrition and diet as they are more cautious about their weight.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” program to win the talent war.Companies should seek professional adviceto help analyze their employee data, so as to design the most suitable programs for their employees. Providing the best health benefits to employees gives them a competitive advantage in building a healthy workforce now and for the future.

Author credits: Arthur Lee, Mercer Marsh Benefits Business Leader for Hong Kong

Arthur Lee has been in the employee benefits industry for 27 years, with experience in actuarial, sales/ marketing and operations.  Prior to joining Mercer in 2010, Arthur held senior positions at Nan Shan Life in Taiwan, Taikang Life in China and AIA.  He has extensive experience in the Greater China insurance market.

Also read: Demand for Candidates with Risk Management Skills in Hong Kong’s Banking and Financial Sector

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