One of the impacts of the pandemic has been to considerably change the face of the healthcare industry. In turn, this has affected how employees interact with and utilise their medical benefits. Continuous social distancing measures and physical meeting restrictions have caused many to delay seeking medical care and look for alternative methods of treatment.
These changes have heightened concerns over already soaring costs that employers and insurers face in Asia Pacific (Figure 1). The medical trend is expected to rise even further due to ongoing COVID-related claims, medical cost inflation and the rebound of previously deferred elective procedures.
Employers are under pressure to manage costs; one of the ways they can do so is by realigning their benefit portfolio to the unique and changing medical needs of their employees. This would also allow them to improve the accessibility and ease of use of medical benefits post-pandemic.
How can employers enable this access? Here are some recommendations:
Technology is moving quickly, and it will be key for employers to have a plan in place to help employees manage and access their medical benefits , and file and track their claims remotely. For instance, a simple platform can be implemented to provide online access where employees can navigate through all these features, and also enrol themselves for supplementary medical benefit options ad hoc.
It will be key for employers to have a plan in place to help employees manage and access their medical benefits.
Employers can also use a digital platform to communicate their benefits, for instance through live streaming where communication and engagement with employees is real-time. Do this during open enrolment and throughout the year, and partner this with circulating digitised pamphlets and handbooks containing information about medical benefits, so your employees are consistently up-to-date and aware of their healthcare coverage.
Telemedicine or telehealth has been commonplace to provide basic healthcare functions during the pandemic. As it is here to stay, it is the right time for organisations to consider adopting insurance products that cover telemedicine. Our 2022 Global Medical Trends Survey also found that more insurers see telehealth as an emerging cost management method through remote diagnosis and treatment of patients (Figure 2).1
Seek a healthcare provider who can provide online booking of appointments and consultations for your employees, and where they may enjoy offline to online features such as accessing medical results of procedures done in hospitals through an app or website.
Many Asia Pacific markets are embracing change through public and private players innovating to integrate technology and allow the labour force to manage, access and utilise their medical benefits and health information. Employers will need to weave in their workforce’s access with these changing platforms.
Here are some examples of health initiatives in Asia Pacific using technology to support health and wellbeing:
There are creative and thoughtful ways to address wellbeing concerns that employees may not be vocal about and stepping up can help prevent stress and burnout.
Medical benefits that are designed and delivered with the employee experience and wellbeing in mind remains at the forefront of employer priorities.
As employees come to expect support from their employers on medical benefits, more so with the emergence of new health and wellbeing needs and expectations, making them accessible and convenient is one of the initial steps to achieve positive employee health outcomes.
In our next article in this series on benefits and the employee experience, we will look into how employers can make this a reality with the power of technology.
1 WTW 2022 Global Medical Trends Survey
2 McKinsey: The future of healthcare in Asia: Digital deal ecosystems
3 Australian Digital Health Agency: My Health Record
4 2021 Benefit Trends Survey – Asia Pacific