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Despite rising health costs in Asia Pacific, wellbeing continues to be a focus for employers

Asia Pacific highlights from the 2022 Global Medical Trends Survey

December 28, 2021

Survey results show considerable volatility in healthcare utilisation and costs, reflecting surges in COVID-19 taking place in different countries at various times.
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Infographic: Despite rising health costs in Asia Pacific, wellbeing continues to be a focus for employers - description below

Medical trend in Asia Pacific is projected to increase to 7.6% in 2022

From 5.4% in 2020 to 7.0% in 2021 and to 7.6% in 2022 (projected)

Gross medical trend in 2022 (projected):

  • Australia: 4.3%
  • China: 8.3%
  • Hong Kong: 8.2%
  • India: 23.5%
  • Malaysia: 16.2%
  • Philippines: 14.4%
  • Singapore: 9.0%
  • Taiwan: 6.8%
  • Thailand: 9.2%
  • Vietnam: 9.0%

Over six in 10 insurers anticipate higher or significantly higher medical trend over the next three years

What’s driving the cost increase?

External factors

  • Higher costs of new medical technologies at 55%
  • Profit motives of providers at 47%
  • Epidemics and global pandemics (including COVID-19) at 37%
  • Current or recent economic environment at 23%
  • Limited/poor networks to effectively control costs at 19%

Provider and employer behaviour

  • Overprescribing or recommending too many services at 64%
  • Overuse of care by insured members at 59%
  • Underuse or lack of preventive services at 38%
  • Insured members’ poor health habits at 35%
  • Poor quality or misuse of care at 29%

Top four conditions currently by cost

  1. Cancer at 76% (also highest globally)
  2. Cardiovascular at 62%
  3. Musculoskeletal at 48%
  4. Digestive system at 30%

Managing the medical trend

How typical are the following cost-sharing approaches for the medical products you offer?

  • 51%: Member coinsurance (fixed percentage of services)
  • 36%: Annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses
  • 35%: Deductible
  • 32%: Member copays
  • Note: The percentages above comprise participants who responded with "typical" or "very typical".

    Despite rising costs, employers prioritise wellbeing

    What is the biggest change your organisation has made to its medical portfolio in 2021?

    • 35% of employers said the addition of new wellbeing services
    • 26% of employers said addition of telehealth services or features

    Telehealth has slower pick up in Asia

    Do you offer telehealth through your current plans?

    • 52% from Global said Yes – across all plans/portfolio while only 27% in Asia Pacific
    • 28% from Global said Yes – only for select plans/clients while 50% in Asia Pacific
    • 10% from Global said No – not expected to be added soon compared to 21% in Asia Pacific

    Next steps for employers

    • Understand and track your workforce’s health using claims and other data to make informed decisions
    • As rates of emergence from the pandemic vary, take advantage of digital tools such as telehealth
    • The mental wellbeing of employees continues to be a key employer focus: Review how wellbeing can be incorporated into core benefits

    Source: 2022 Global Medical Trends Survey – Asia Pacific
    Copyright © 2021 Willis Towers Watson. All rights reserved.

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