Unifying international employee benefits: how using a broker makes better sense

multiple country flags fly in the wind representing the challenge of international employee benefits

A challenge facing many businesses with multiple global operations is managing the benefits of their staff. In an age where salaries alone are no longer sufficient to attract the high calibre talent companies look for to drive their success further, juggling international employee benefits can be a tough task. Still, the lure of emerging markets continues to draw many businesses to set up regional sites around the world. This week, Pacific Prime will discuss why having a broker coordinate and unifying your employee benefits globally can not only save you time and money, but provide your business with unparalleled support to do what you’re in the business of doing.

Common challenges faced by companies with multiple global offices

According to the UK-based industry news site, Employee Benefits, the top five global benefits strategy challenges in 2015 were:

  • A lack of understanding of the value of the total reward a plan offers employees (57%)
  • High levels of benefits administration (51%)
  • Challenges with reporting globally on total reward costs (41%)
  • Difficulty demonstrating the return on investment to key stakeholders (35%)
  • Low levels of employee engagement and poor communication of benefits (30%)

In our experience, many clients find themselves frustrated with one or many of the above challenges. Most Human Resources departments lack someone who specializes in international employee benefits, leaving businesses to rely heavily on the information and analysis of the benefits provider they’re paying. As such, a significant factor for many global businesses can also be: Are we getting the best advice?

How using an independent broker can support your international employee benefits strategy

Part of what makes Pacific Prime such an effective corporate insurance partner is in our global presence, and complete independence from the insurers we offer solutions from. We’ve built our business this way on purpose; to ensure that any and all insurance-related challenges your global business might face can be serviced and supported by our advisors. Here’s what makes the Pacific Prime advantage the choice of many corporates around the world:

A single, dedicated point-of-contact for global management and regional offices

When your company has a headquarters in your home country, e.g., the United States, and offices throughout Asia and the Middle East, coordinating international employee benefits can be a full-time job and then some. You might find yourself dealing with separate insurers and providers across different countries or regions of your business, whilst some might find themselves backed into a corner by choosing a broker that guides you to providing employee benefits from the same provider worldwide.

The benefits to using Pacific Prime means that we’ll offer you the best plans from the most appropriate insurers in each country or region your offices are located, but establish ourselves as the main point of contact for your entire organization. For example, your Hong Kong HQ can discuss your global benefits strategy with our Hong Kong office, while your office in China is serviced by one of our two Chinese locations. Expanding to the Middle East? Let our teams in Dubai do the groundwork to ensure that your employee benefits for your new office are ready to go.

An industry independent with established working relationships with most global brands

We’ve been building relationships and partnerships in the insurance industry for almost 20 years, and have been recognized for our hard work a number of times over. We’re one of Bupa’s biggest distributors of private international medical insurance plans around the globe, winning the Bupa Innovative Excellence Award in 2016. Despite being one of the highest sellers of Bupa plans, the insurer only makes up 20% of our total business. Pacific Prime boasts a close working relationship with many of the world’s top brands, including Aetna, AXA, Cigna, and William Russell.

How can this benefit your company? We can leverage our reputation and relationships to ensure that your offices, wherever they are, are getting the coverage and benefits that they need – and we’re not beholden to ensuring you stay with any particular insurer. In addition, our good standing means you and your employees can benefit from dedicated staff within the major insurers whose sole role is to support Pacific Prime clients. Let us negotiate a better premium price for your company, without a loss of coverage or outstanding service.

Centralized administrative support, regardless of the number insurers you engage

Key to delivering more than your average broker is our commitment to simplifying insurance – including your administrative requirements across the globe. With our 7 offices worldwide, all located in key expat business locations, our teams of Sales, Claims, and Renewal staff are available wherever you need us. Forget about having to remember multiple different contacts for your offices in Europe, the Americas, and Asia; a dedicated account manager will be supported by administrative staff and ensure that your insurance-related correspondence is streamlined.

Multijurisdictional compliance expertise

Governments are constantly changing the rules and regulations related to healthcare and insurance coverage; Dubai recently introduced mandatory health insurance coverage for anyone entering its borders, whilst company insurance requirements will differ between offices located in Singapore, China, and Hong Kong. To reduce the risk of being liable for non-compliance penalties, or even having your business temporarily suspended, engaging an expert on multijurisdictional compliance, like Pacific Prime, is hugely important.

In fact, Pacific Prime recently became a member of one of the worlds biggest group of brokers and intermediaries, the Worldwide Broker Network (WBN), giving us access to a wealth of international knowledge, a network of expert peers, and the ability to be updated instantly of any and all regulation changes that might affect your business and staff in global offices. We’ll work with you to ensure that any changes in legislation are met by your plan, or work with you to secure the coverage needed to meet compliance.

Unparalleled support for both benefits and your overall business needs

Providing international employee benefits is only part of the job, ensuring understanding and engagement is another. Pacific Prime seeks to support its clients completely, through offering orientation and information sessions related to your benefits plans; and we can draw upon our own global offices to deliver them. We also help develop communication strategies to ensure any new offerings or changes to benefits are communicated adequately, meaning your HR staff can worry less about staff issues related to their employee packages.

Your senior management and decision makers can also take advantage of our expert analysis and advice related to benefits plan performance, global experience with coordinating benefits, and industry knowledge to ensure that your package meets with current industry and talent expectations. We’ll also help out where we can to ensure that any premium costs meet global and regional budgeting requirements, and can take a whole of company approach to finding the financial solutions your business needs.

Structure your international employee benefits better with Pacific Prime

Organizing your benefits across multiple locations can be made simple and smarter by using an expert, independent broker like Pacific Prime. Our services have been honed and developed over the past two decades to ensure that we can offer a fully comprehensive solution that allows you to manage your regional needs effectively, whilst maintaining a broader, global oversight. Arrange a meeting with our consultants who can outline exactly how a relationship with Pacific Prime can benefit your company and staff today.

Call us now to find a better international employee benefits solution!

Check out our new report on the state of health insurance

state of health insurance release

As we roll into January, the majority of us will have started making plans and goals for the year ahead. During this time, individuals and employers alike may also begin to consider purchasing or renewing their health insurance policies. In our goal to simplify health insurance and help those that are looking for plans make more informed decisions, we’re happy to announce the release of our inaugural report covering the current state of health insurance!

For a complimentary copy of The State of Health Insurance 2017-2018 report, be sure to visit our website here. If you’d like to learn more about our latest study, read on for further info on what you can expect to discover from our report’s key findings.

SOHI report

About our latest report on the state of health insurance

As the first of its kind in the insurance industry, our latest report provides a snapshot into the key aspects of the current global medical insurance landscape. In uncovering key findings and trends pertaining to the world of international health insurance, our study aims to answer the most common questions asked by our individual and corporate clients. These include:

  • What can I expect to pay for international health insurance?
  • How much will my insurance premiums increase in the future?
  • What are the major international health insurance companies?
  • What’s the best time to purchase health insurance coverage?
  • What current global medical insurance trends should I be aware of?

Already featured on major websites like Business Wire and ET Net, our global report leverages the wealth of international medical insurance data we’ve acquired over the past 17+ years, and the insights shared by our most experienced advisors.

Eight sections of in-depth insight

In order to answer the above questions in an easy-to-read and comprehensive format, our report’s key findings are divided into eight key sections:

  1. About the report & executive summary
  2. The cost of international health insurance
  3. Global private health insurance inflation
  4. Pacific Prime’s top insurance partners around the globe
  5. When do people buy international health insurance?
  6. Recent global changes to health insurance
  7. Global trends impacting international private medical insurance (IPMI) around the world
  8. Top 5 health insurance issues companies are facing around the world

Key global medical insurance insights revealed

Among the headline findings from our latest study are the fact that:

The average cost of health insurance worldwide in 2017 was USD 8,105

Taking into account the international health insurance premiums for four key demographics from 10 major global insurers in 100 locations, the average cost of health insurance in 2017 was USD 8,105. When looking at the average cost of health insurance by demographic, the report found that families can expect to pay the highest premiums (an average cost of USD 11,551), followed by retirees (USD 9,008), couples (UDS 7,809), and individuals (USD 4,053).

Globally, medical insurance premiums inflated by 9.2%

Based on findings from our 2017 International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) Inflation report, section three found that the average IPMI inflation rate in 2016 was 9.2%, the exact same figure as 2015!

Looking at data between 2009 to 2016, it’s clear to see that premium inflation rates have been variable during this time period. As such, this section provides an in-depth look at the global Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of IPMI inflation between 2009 to 2016. In addition to this, it also explores how the global CAGR compares with the CAGR seen in key markets for IPMI products: Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and UAE.

Top trends impacting IPMI around the world include:

  • Insurers ‘onshoring’: An increasing number of international health insurers are ‘onshoring’ in order to become fully licensed to sell local health insurance plans in particular locations.
  • Compliance: Insurers are faced with increasingly regulated operating conditions, as a growing number of locations have introduced new compliance regulations (e.g. minimum insurance requirements in Dubai).
  • Digitization: From online portals and apps, to underwriting systems, digitization is a big emphasis for many insurers now.

Most people buy international medical insurance in Q2

While sales of IPMI products are almost equally spread out throughout the year, in our past experience we’ve found that the quarter with the highest percentage of global sales is Q2, which saw 26% of total sales in 2016.

To help individuals and companies determine the most optimal time to buy medical insurance, section five of our report also looks at the strategies to keep in mind when it comes time to renewing or purchasing a new plan.

The top health insurance issues companies are facing around the world include:

  1. Uncertainty around premiums: When faced with a premium hike, most companies find it hard to discern if the increase they receive is fair or balanced. This is where working with an independent broker like Pacific Prime can really help, as we are able to leverage our market intelligence and relationships with insurers to ensure better premium negotiations.
  2. Plan sustainability: When costs are increasing, how do you ensure that your corporate health insurance remains sustainable in the long run? There are many reasons behind a significant rise in premiums, including high claims by members, or member behaviours (e.g. choosing high cost providers).
  3. Ensuring benefits are competitive: Despite tougher financial positions, a recent Society of Human Resources Management survey found that nearly 40% of companies  increased their overall employee benefits. This shows competitive employee benefits remain a high priority for many businesses.
  4. Communicating with and educating employees: Oftentimes companies can misunderstand their employees’ discontent with a benefits package as a sign that they haven’t implemented the best-fitting plan. However, sometimes the issue is not with the plan but the ways in which benefits are (mis)communicated to employees.
  5. Structuring relevant benefits: When faced with an increasingly diverse workforce, another challenge companies face around the world is how to shape their benefits to meet the expectations of staff across different generations, gender, culture and religious groups.

Download your FREE copy of our latest report today

For a complete review of our study’s findings, be sure to get your free copy of our State of International Health Insurance report here today. We’ve also published reports on the state of health insurance in China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore, which you can download from their respective websites.

Our first-ever state of health insurance report is a welcome addition to the repertoire of informative guides, infographics, and reports featured on our site. To discover our resources, click here to visit the ‘Prime Guides’ section of our website, or give us a call to talk about your global medical insurance options today!

Back-to-work strategy: How to help new parents transition back to work

back-to-work strategy article

Returning to work after taking time out can be tough, especially for new parents. Assuming most companies want to retain their talented returnees, it behooves employers to address the reintroduction of employees to the workplace and provide a softer landing for returning new parents. But, how can employers better facilitate new parents returning to work? To answer this question, today’s blog post by employee benefits specialist Pacific Prime looks at the key ways in which companies can best implement a back-to-work strategy.

The importance of a back-to-work strategy

Back-to-work schemes are an integral part of an organization’s HR strategy, and are designed to facilitate the reintegration of employees who have been on leave from work due to maternity/paternity leave or other reasons (e.g. caring for ill parents, injury, etc.). The right back-to-work strategy isn’t just something that’s ‘nice to have’, it can, in fact, also form an instrumental part of a company’s growth strategy.

Here, we look at the key reasons why employers should support effective return to work:

Help returnees deal with back-to-work anxiety

For many new parents, the excitement of welcoming a new addition to the family goes hand-in-hand with apprehension about juggling work-life duties once the new baby arrives. This apprehension and uncertainty can cause a great deal of back-to-work anxiety among new parents, both personally and professionally. For example, new moms and dads often worry about:

  • Separation anxiety: New parents often feel guilty about being away from their new baby.
  • Juggling responsibilities both at home and at work: We all know that parenting can be a full time job on its own, but what about the many parents who also do work for other people? According to a recent Working Mother study, working moms spend an average of 98 hours working a week, a lot more than the traditional work week of 40 hours.
  • Lack of job security: Having a baby can create career complications for new parents, leading many to worry about their job security (e.g. lack of promotion, demotion). In fact, a UK study found that 45 percent of moms return to work before the end of their maternity leave because of fears that they would lose their job if they took the full amount.
  • Loneliness: Reentering the workplace can be a lonely experience, especially if the returnee is the only one going through it in the company. Even the most caring coworkers and friends might not be able to fully understand or anticipate the needs of returning new parents.
  • Emotional distance: Being away from work for an extended period of time can create a sense of emotional distance between the returnee and their coworkers.

After an extended period of time away from work, it’s only natural that many returnees lose confidence and feel anxious about the prospect of returning to the workplace. Whether employers realize it or not, too often companies are not doing enough to reintroduce returning parents to the workplace. With this in mind, the right back-to-work strategy can help new moms and dads make a smoother, less emotionally draining transition back to work.

Retain top talent

While attracting talent remains top on the agendas of employers, the pendulum is swinging towards talent retention. Losing top talent represents a large loss of investment, especially when the company that lured your employee away is one of your competitors.

Throw in the fact that three in five (59%) of new parents – both men and women – say they’re likely to switch employers after their first baby, and it’s clear to see why a growing number of companies are realizing it’s in their best interest to make sure new parents get the support they need when they return to the workplace.

Boost your employer brand

If your company is known for having a supportive and family friendly working environment, you’ll create a more favorable brand perception for yourself as an employer, and also a better perception of your business. This, in turn, is not only good for your business as it pertains to organizational growth, but also provides you with an edge over the competition. An example of a company that has put considerable effort into supporting new parents is Goldman Sachs, who implemented a “Help at Home” intranet bulletin allowing employees to share key tips on child care. The result: a more supportive culture, and employees who spend less time stressing over the many aspects of child care.

Back-to-work benefits that appeal most to working parents

Now that we’ve established the importance of a back-to-work strategy, the question now is: “What back-to-work benefits should employers consider for new parents rejoining the workforce?” Here, we look at three top perks that appeal most to working parents:

Flexible or alternative working hours

Flexible working hours is one of the top benefits that working moms value the most, according to a recent company benefits survey. Work can sometimes require an interruption from the typical nine-to-five, whether it’s due to child care responsibilities or other family obligations.

A focus on flexibility, for example flexible working hours, can be very beneficial for new parents rejoining the workplace, allowing them to meet their personal needs. This could mean allowing employees to start working earlier in the morning (e.g. at 7 AM instead of 9 AM), so that parents can leave earlier to take care of their new child.

Workplace support

Support initiatives like educational workshops/webinars and coaching sessions can be very beneficial for new working parents. Additionally, initiatives like buddy programs, which pairs employees with peers who have been through the same transition can ensure that the returnee feels less lonely and has someone to turn to for guidance.

Extra perks like breastfeeding facilities can also further establish a family friendly working environment. For example, multinational pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson offers temperature controlled breast milk delivery for moms travelling for business purposes as part of their back-to-work strategy.

Employee health insurance

Finally, due in part to skyrocketing healthcare costs, health insurance is another top perk that appeals most to employees. And for new moms and dads, health insurance coverage increases in importance. Considering the high financial cost of raising a child, a comprehensive employer-provided health insurance package that includes cover for your employees’ children can do wonders in providing working parents with much needed financial support.

Implementing the best-fitting employee health insurance plan can, however, be a daunting task. With this in mind, it often pays to work with an experienced employee benefits broker like Pacific Prime.

Get in touch with Pacific Prime today

If you’re looking to learn more about the world of employee benefits and corporate health insurance, be sure to get in touch with the experienced advisors at Pacific Prime today. As the broker of choice for over 3,000 companies worldwide, we’ve had almost 20 years of experience advising, devising, and implementing the most optimal corporate solutions for businesses of all sizes.

Alternatively, be sure to check out our corporate site to learn more about us and the companies we work with, or read our blog to stay up-to-date on the latest employee benefits and wellness issues.

Second opinions, you, and your insurance: Getting it right

second opinions

If you’re like us, you live in a world where time is the most precious resource around. We take care to fill every moment with our days to the point that we even plan out specific windows with which to relax, and then we’re right back to the grind. Perhaps because of this, getting injured or sick is more of a distressing event now than ever before.

The idea of visiting the doctor or hospital, or even worse, being bedridden for a period of days is enough to send us into full on freak out mode. If our timeline is thrown off, it can feel like our whole lives have been thrown for a loop, and yet, inevitably, we will get sick or injured at some point; most likely numerous times. We’re not superheroes, after all, as much as we like to tell ourselves that we are.

Still, when we are put out of commission, so to speak, we nevertheless want to be able to get back to our thriving, dynamic selves as soon as possible. This is why the thought of being misdiagnosed by a trusted medical professional can be so off-putting, as well as why it can be so valuable to seek a second opinion when it comes to matters related to our health. However, many people never bother to seek a second opinion, sometimes to their own detriment.

Here, Pacific Prime discusses seeking second opinions, why it can be so valuable, and how second opinions relate to health insurance providers.

Why don’t people get second opinions?

Are people really not seeking second opinions? Largely, the answer is no. Using the United States as an example, research has shown that anywhere between 50-70% of the American population never bothers to seek out a second opinion in medical matters, or even do independent research on their condition.

To be sure, not every condition or ailment that occurs will need a second opinion in order to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan, so it is fine in many cases to not seek additional consultation. However, the more serious the issue, the more relevant it may be to get a second opinion. In these instances, there are many reasons that one is not sought, and here are just a few:

  • Confidence in a trusted medical professional: In countries and healthcare systems where family doctors are common, relationships can be formed with medical professionals over a lifetime. In these cases, a person may just trust their doctor so much that it would never dawn on them to seek advice elsewhere. Feelings of guilt or fear can even develop at the thought of seeing another doctor.
  • Belief in the authority of doctors: Even in the absence of a family doctor, some people simply feel the medical professionals must be right. After all, they’re professional doctors, right? It should always be remembered that doctors are human beings that also make mistakes, and that two different medical professionals may diagnose and treat the same condition in different ways.
  • Time concerns: Many times people are in a hurry to address their medical problems, and want to get treatment underway immediately in order to get back to full health as quickly as possible. Patients should not be so hasty, though, as rushed medical care can result in a misdiagnosis that could lead to problematic or even disastrous health outcomes.
  • The doctors came recommended: Sometimes a patient may have a concern that, if they seek a second opinion, not only might they offend the doctor, but also the person who referred them to the doctor. However, when it comes to health matters, it’s important that we don’t let something like worrying about what someone else might think jeopardize our health.

Reasons to get second opinions

Having identified some of the reasons people may not seek a second opinion when they should, let’s now look at the real benefits of getting a second opinion:

  • Ensuring the correct diagnosis: Again using the United States as an example, in 2012 it was shown that around 12 million Americans get misdiagnosed every year, and that anywhere from 5% to 28%  to 40% of doctor visits featured diagnostic errors, misdiagnosis, or missed diagnosis. Even at the lower end of these figures, it’s understandable why anyone would seek a second opinion to make sure that what a doctor tells them they have is what they actually have.
  • Avoiding risky treatment: The right diagnosis and treatment are critically important to patient care, and yet doctors will frequently vary greatly in how they feel they should approach treating a given condition. If you ever receive a treatment plan that involves a significant amount of risk to you, or that you are uncomfortable with for any reason, you should certainly seek out a second opinion and make your concerns known. There is a reasonable chance that another medical professional may have a course of treatment that carries less risk, or that addresses your concerns.
  • Treatment plans really do differ between doctors: It has been reported that, in cases where a second medical opinion is sought, only a low percentage of diagnoses may change, but up to 90% of treatment recommendations will differ from those of the first physician consulted.
  • Second opinions are easier to get than ever before: Are you familiar with telemedicine? Well, if not, it refers to medical consultations that are performed online via teleconferencing services like Skype. This practice is becoming more and more common, and it can allow you to get a second opinion right from your home with minimal time or effort expended. If you do end up getting a second opinion with telemedicine, just be sure that the consulting doctor has access to all of your relevant medical records, as they will not be able to perform any tests on you over an electronic device.
  • An improved bottom line: If you are an employer or have a business that provides health insurance plans for your employees, you would do well to make sure that medical second opinions are utilized regularly. This is because second opinions can oftentimes lead to surgical cost savings, resulting in group health insurance plan savings, as well as other long term benefits, including improved productivity, and reduced absenteeism and disability claims due to prolonged recovery times.
  • Peace of mind: Just think about it. If you get a single diagnosis and treatment plan, there may always be a modicum of doubt in the back of your mind that your doctor got it completely right. However, if you have a second, unaffiliated doctor confirm everything that the first doctor told you, that doubt will most likely vanish.

Second opinions and health insurance plans

Speaking of peace of mind, when talking about medical treatment, the only way to have full peace of mind is to make sure that you do not have to worry about the costs of treatment. Of course, the best way to ensure that such costs are covered is to have a private health insurance plan in place. How do health insurance plans interact with second opinions though?

To be clear here, most health insurance providers will provide coverage for second opinions. This is due to the fact that it oftentimes makes good financial sense for the insurer, in addition to the improved health outcomes for a policyholder that can come with a second opinion. In fact, due to the real benefits inherent to second opinions, some health insurance providers or plans will make obtaining a second opinion mandatory in certain situations. Situations where this will apply mostly involve major surgical procedures or other expensive treatments.

If you have any questions about your health insurance plan and how second opinions fit into it, contact the helpful insurance experts at Pacific Prime today! They are available to give you answers, and even have a look at your current policy to let you know the finer points of what it will and will not cover. They can also compare it to other plans on the market and give you free quotes if you find one that is more appropriate for your medical needs.

Announcing Pacific Prime Dubai

Pacific Prime Dubai example

After many years of working in Dubai via a partnership in the Emirate, Pacific Prime is proud to announce the opening of our very own office! Now fully licensed as a broker of both local and international health insurance inside of Dubai, this new office will be branded as Pacific Prime Dubai. The office will be supported by over 100 staff members who will be providing all manners of sales, support and administrative services to individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations.

Insurance plans on offer through Pacific Prime Dubai include:
● DHA compliant health insurance plans
● Maternity insurance
● Family medical insurance
● Group medical insurance
● Travel insurance
● And more

Pacific Prime Dubai Corporate Sales Director Colin Ward said of the announcement, “We are both excited and proud to be operating on our own with the establishment of Pacific Prime Dubai. Our parent company has already been successful with a unique service offering that is unmatched by any of our competitors, so we know that we have a lot to offer people in the Emirate. We welcome everyone in the area to contact us and find out how we can simplify insurance for them.”

Pacific Prime has been monitoring the market closely ever since the DHA’s announcement of the new mandatory health insurance scheme, and Pacific Prime Dubai is well versed in local regulations. Emiratis and expats in Dubai both can take advantage of knowledgeable, professional insurance advisers that can provide them with unbiased insurance advice, price comparisons featuring plans from major compliant Dubai insurers, free price quotations, and answers to all of their questions.

View the new website here. Or, if you are in Dubai, feel free to contact our team for a quote!

Health insurance coverage and employee health outcomes

Health insurance coverage and health outcomes article

We often hear people in the healthcare sector talk about ‘health outcomes’, but what does it really mean? According to World Health Organization, an outcome is “a change in the health status of an individual, group or population which is attributable to a planned intervention or series of interventions, regardless of whether such an intervention was intended to change health status.” In other words, a health outcome can be described as the efficacy of interventions (healthcare or health insurance coverage, for example) in improving the health status of patients, employees, or the society at large.

As populations continue to age, and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) continue to rise at alarming rates, a growing proportion of the world’s population are experiencing a decline in their health status. As such, it’s become more important than ever for governments, key decision makers, health care providers, insurers, and employers to focus on improving the health status of patients, employees, and populations. To shed some light on the issue, today’s article looks at the relationship between health insurance coverage and employee health outcomes.

health outcomes and health insurance coverage article

Health-related quality of life

Before we look at the relationship between health insurance coverage and health outcomes, we’d first like to address how outcomes are usually measured. While there exists many variations of definitions for the term health outcomes, one primary aspect that almost all concepts focus on are the central measures or indicators used to measure the health status of patients.

One such indicator is health-related quality of life, which is a multidimensional concept that encompasses domains related to physical, mental, emotional, and social functioning. Put differently, it refers to how physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially healthy people feel when they are alive. An oft-used measurement of health-related quality of life is “healthy days”, which is generated by asking people about the number of physically or mentally unhealthy days they experience per month.

Healthcare costs and health outcomes

In the past 20 years, consumer price inflation (CPI) has grown at an average rate of about 2.2 percent, whereas the price level of medical care has grown at an average rate of 3.6 percent – that’s about 70 percent faster. Explanations are not hard to find. In our International Private Medical Insurance Inflation – 2017 report, we looked at the main forces behind hiking healthcare costs and, subsequently, health insurance costs: new medical technology, an imbalance of health resources, increased compensation for medical professionals, and healthcare overutilization.

As healthcare spending continues to exceed economic growth at an unsustainable level, more and more people are finding it increasingly hard to afford and access quality care. Demographic changes such as ageing populations, and the growing incidence of NCDs, are further exacerbating the healthcare ‘cost crisis’. Some commentators believe the challenge of delivering better health outcomes with lower overall costs can be attributed to ineffective cost measurement processes, leaving better value care out of reach for both providers and patients.

If healthcare costs are better controlled, people (in theory) have a greater ability to access the care they need to live healthier lives. For instance, patients can undergo more frequent screenings and health check-ups to ensure early detection of cancer, diabetes, and other serious conditions. This can help ensure that less costly and complex care is needed in the long run, and can also limit health deterioration.

The role of health insurance coverage

Health insurance is a key tool for managing financial risk and offsetting the cost of care. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, there is abundant evidence that suggests having health insurance improves financial security. For example, the article cited a US-based study on the ACA’s 2014 Medicaid expansion’s links to reduced bill collection and bankruptcies, thus confirming that health insurance reduces the risk of unforeseen medical costs.

From an employee benefits perspective, the annual Employee Benefit Trends Study has long reported the importance employees place on financial security. One of the key ways businesses address this need is by offering employer-provided health insurance as part of their employee benefits package. In addition to bolstering employee financial security, there’s also a good chance that implementing the right employee health benefits leads to better workforce health outcomes, which translates to lower healthcare costs for employers in the long run.

Health insurance and access to care

According to the aforementioned New England Journal of Medicine article, several studies have shown that health insurance coverage has been linked to higher rates of patients being able to afford care, a factor which is oft-associated with better health outcomes. In fact, the CDC states that health insurance coverage provides a strong indication of a population’s access to care.

In recognizing the importance of ensuring universal access to quality care, a growing number of locations have made or are in the process of making health insurance mandatory. For example, Abu Dhabi introduced universal health insurance coverage in 2006, which led to an immediate 40 percent increase in hospital and clinic visits by people able to afford care for the very first time. A rise in the utilization of care has also been witnessed in Dubai, where employers of all sizes are now required to provide compliant health insurance coverage to employees.

Access to preventative services

The New England Journal of Medicine study further revealed that the expansion of coverage benefits increases access to preventative services, which can help patients detect health issues early on so they can better manage their health.

To mitigate rising healthcare costs, a growing number of employers are also seeing the importance of offering preventative care cover in employee benefit plans. In fact, a Willis Towers Watson study found that 39 percent of employers throughout the world now offer some form of preventative care and wellness program, and this percentage is projected to grow significantly in 2018.

Self-reported health and wellbeing

There’s also evidence to suggest that health insurance coverage improves patients’ perceptions of their health. Why is this important? According to World Health Organization, subjective physical and mental wellbeing (i.e. the notion of feeling better or feeling healthy) is one of the key goals that medical care should aim to achieve. Additionally, people who report that their health is poor have been found to have mortality rates 2 to 10 times higher than those who report being in the healthiest category.

What about mental health?

In addition to addressing physical health, the issue of mental health has also been brought into the spotlight as a key factor that is closely linked to health outcomes. In fact, as employee stress continues to rise, 61 percent of global insurers now offer coverage for mental health treatment and stress in their standard health insurance plans.

Our recent article, written in partnership with Asia Care Group, further revealed a number of key findings which show the importance of addressing employee mental health. These include:

  • Demanding jobs increase the chances of physician-diagnosed illness by 35 percent, and long working hours increase mortality by almost 20 percent.
  • Job insecurity increases the likelihood of reporting poor health by 50 percent.
  • The global cost of mental disorders is expected to reach USD 6 trillion by 2030, which primarily includes the costs and strains to the healthcare sector.

While health insurance plays a significant role in enabling access to better mental health care, employers are advised to look beyond health insurance in order to employ a more holistic approach to employee benefits which includes considerations for wellness benefits that target mental health. Examples of what employers can do to address mental health include:

  • Inviting a mental health professional to talk to employees about various mental health topics
  • Providing mental health management resources, such as online counselling services.
  • Partnering with an employee benefits specialist like Pacific Prime, who can help devise, implement, and manage your company’s benefits and mental wellness solutions.

Looking to learn more about improving your employees’ health outcomes?

As employee benefits specialists, we’ve had almost 20 years of experience delivering employee benefits solutions to companies of all sizes and industries. Holding the unique ability to devise, implement, and manage the most optimal plans that improve employee health outcomes, while also ensuring that they remain sustainable and cost-effective year-on-year, it’s no wonder why we are the broker of choice for over 3,000 corporate clients.

What’s more, we’re an insurance intermediary, which means we are not beholden to any one insurance provider. As such, we work for you, and not the insurer, so you can rest assured that we’ll find you the best plan for your employee’s needs. To learn more about how Pacific Prime can help your company, contact us today! Our corporate team are standing by to offer their impartial advice, as well as give you a no-obligation, free quote.

Employee Benefits Plans: Important things to remember when structuring

employee benefits plans

If you are a Human Resources professional, or otherwise administer your company’s group health insurance plan, it can oftentimes feel overwhelming. It’s hard enough to keep up for those that have been dealing with employee health insurance for years. This group no doubt already has learned many of the ins and outs of obtaining, managing and renewing a company health insurance policy. However, those that are newer to this area could likely use some input on navigating the waters on the seas of employee benefits plans. Here, Pacific Prime will look at the ways in which businesses are structuring health insurance, employee benefits and wellness plans successfully.

Blending benefits

At Pacific Prime we provide group health insurance solutions for thousands of different organizations, and we are always looking out for hot trends in the world of group health insurance so that we can use our specific members’ experiences to help the entire community we serve.

With this in mind, we have noticed that it is becoming increasingly common to see more variety in the employee benefits plans provided by our members to their staff. Yes, comprehensive insurance is the norm, and in many cases – especially with expatriate employees – entire families are being covered by a company plan, but plans today can include so much more.

Now you can find that forward-thinking companies are able to not only make themselves more attractive to new hires, but also improve the morale of current employees by including benefits like wellness plans, dental and vision coverage, employee assistance programs, both short term and long term disability insurance, and more fringe benefits. From this point, companies are able to keep tabs on which benefits are more and less popular with employees, and make subsequent decisions about where to focus their employee benefit budget.

There are even newer types of plans that will allow for ‘flexible benefits’, meaning that employees can choose which benefits they would prefer to have from a list of what is available to them.

Placing a focus on prevention

While many healthcare systems and insurance plans around the world are focused on the reactionary treatment of acute health problems at hospitals after they have already occurred, more recently people, governments, and healthcare systems have taken aim at preventive medicine to a greater degree.

This is where benefits such as nutrition and healthy living seminars come into play. Companies will actually have expert speakers come in to inform employees about how they can live happier, healthier lives, and thereby avoid health problems that might not develop until years or even decades into the future. As well, gym memberships are being included in wellness programs in order to keep employees fit and healthy.

Emphasis on education

Quite similarly to the previous point, employers are finding that there is so much more to properly taking care of their employees than just healthcare. However, this is a world where there are known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns; which is all a way of saying that sometimes people don’t know the slightest thing about a topic that could really help them and their families when it comes to healthy living.

For example, we have come across members that saw employees having both physical and mental health issues as the result of stress, both inside and outside of work. A bit of digging revealed that some of these employees were constantly worrying about financial issues, and really didn’t know how to go about addressing them.

In this instance, the company decided it prudent to bring in a financial consultant to present to all employees of the company on the basics of financial planning, and to work more closely with employees that felt they may additional counseling.

Data diving

Certainly there is much more to employee benefits plans than just what employees can see. If you work in HR, you know that keeping on top of just a group health insurance plan is a never ending battle. However, to be clear, it is the companies that are putting the most effort into analyzing plan data that are having the easiest time with plan renewal, negotiation, and management.

Is your company actually getting the most out of its health insurance and employee benefits plans? Only proper data analysis can reveal the true answer. It’s important to examine the ratio of how much you are paying versus how much your plan is being used. Believe it or not, there are actually times where we find that a company is seriously overpaying for the benefits it provides to its employees. In such cases, with proper ongoing data collection, our advisers are able to recommend specific benefits that the employer can reduce benefits, or even cut outright, with very minimal effects on employees. If they don’t use it, lose it!

Expecting increases

If you have dealt with health insurance in any capacity, you most likely have realized that prices tend to increase on an annual basis. There are specific occasions in which this isn’t true, but by and large it is.

Claims data can reveal a lot about whether or not increased premiums are warranted or not. For example, there are times our members will have their insurance provider proclaim that premiums will need to be raised significantly on the policy due to its heavy usage in a given year.

Fortunately, Pacific Prime is there to analyze claim data on their behalf. Oftentimes we are then able to highlight anomalies and expensive one-time procedures that will artificially inflate the costs to insurers during a short time frame. By highlighting these instances and projecting that subsequent years will not see the same trends, Pacific Prime has been able to renegotiate premium increases with insurers, and our members have seen significant savings as a result.

Employee benefits plans through a broker

Now, of course, we may be a bit biased on this point, but we wholeheartedly feel that a company’s best way to go about creating their employee benefits plans is to start out by partnering with a knowledgeable insurance broker, like Pacific Prime.

As an insurance intermediary, we are an impartial third party that works on your behalf, and not the insurance company’s. Furthermore, Pacific Prime provides added value as part of our basic service that truly helps us stand out versus the competition, including the types of claims, data analysis, renewal, and negotiation support the likes of which is alluded to above.

To find out more about how Pacific Prime can help your company ensure its has the very best possible employee benefit and group health insurance plan for its needs, contact us today! We can provide your company with a dedicated team that will be happy to start out by providing you with a free plan comparison and price quote.

Primary care delivery: What it is and why it’s important

Primary Care Delivery

Primary care delivery is a topic that really should be a more common feature of discussions about global healthcare. This is because utilizing primary care services can make such a difference in a given person’s day to day life. Still there are many parts of the world where primary care delivery is largely absent from local healthcare systems. What is primary care, and how can it help to greatly increase health outcomes? Here, Pacific Prime discusses the topic and provides examples from the location of our worldwide headquarters.

What is primary care?

While the dictionary definition of primary care is, “health care provided by a medical professional with whom a patient has initial contact and by whom the patient may be referred to a specialist…” this simple sentence doesn’t really encase the full meaning of what primary care is for the patients that receive it.  With primary care delivery, you truly develop a closer relationship with your primary care provider who, in most cases, will be a general practitioner, family physician, nurse practitioner, or pediatric doctor or nurse practitioner. Usually, a primary care provider can even be a registered nurse, clinical officer or pharmacist, though these will likely be found in countries where GPs are in short supply.

Primary care vs acute care

Perhaps a better way to explain what primary care services are would be to compare to the type of care that is essentially its antithesis: acute care. Acute care is simply healthcare that addresses an existing ailment or condition. This means that you already have a pressing injury or illness that needs to be addressed quickly, and require a purely reactive method of dispensing healthcare. Healthcare systems focusing on acute care means that medical staff will likely only interact with patients only after something is already wrong.

On the other hand, primary care delivery seeks to address a patient’s health even when they do not have any immediate treatment needs. By repeatedly seeing the same doctor over a long period of time, a primary care provider can better chart a patient’s health history and provide lifestyle, nutrition, and chronic disease management strategies designed to optimize health outcomes in the long term. Furthermore, all medical records can be shared with the primary care provider so that they are fully versed in a patient’s current medical standing at any given point in time.

Another benefit of primary care delivery is that the patient gets to become more comfortable with their primary care provider over time. Rather than utilizing a different medical professional each time they seek treatment, those that have primary care providers get to build trust over time with their doctor, and thus are more comfortable to share the kinds of intimate details that can be awkward to discuss with a total stranger, even if they are a doctor.

What does a system without primary care services look like?

Pacific Prime’s head office is located in Hong Kong. Anyone who has used the healthcare system here to some extent is familiar with the lack of primary care services in the city. So what does a healthcare system without primary care delivery look like? Here are some of the most common ways people in Hong Kong receive healthcare:

The doctor of choice is the most convenient doctor: Sometimes, people in Hong Kong will avail themselves of doctor’s office or small clinic when they feel under the weather. The thing is, there may not be any consistency in which office they choose. In many cases, patients simply use a doctor’s office near wherever they happen to be. While this may be effective for obtaining a doctor’s note and a prescription, it certainly will not foster an ongoing preventive care strategy.

Reliance on the emergency department and public hospitals: For many people in Hong Kong, going straight to the hospital may be the first option when it comes to seeking medical treatment, if for no other reason than it’s the cheapest option. This is because public hospitals are highly subsidized, so, despite the long wait times. The problem here is that there is no guarantee which doctor you will see when you go to seek treatment. Once you do see the doctor, they will not only be unfamiliar with your case, but they will also be hurried in their actions, as there will be a steady stream of patients behind you waiting to be seen.

Hopefully, the above clearly exemplifies what a healthcare system not focused on primary care delivery looks like, as well as where such a system can fall short. Now, let’s dig into the specific benefits afforded by primary care services.

Benefits of primary care delivery

It has been proven that health systems that focus on primary care delivery, as opposed to specialist care, produce better health outcomes for patients by improving access to care, upgrading continuity between patients and doctors, and reducing preventable mortality. Additionally, for healthcare systems, a primary care approach can mean big cost reductions in the long run, as preventive care ends up reducing the workload that hospitals take on over the long term thanks to people’s improved health.

Preventive care is a big part of primary care services. Preventive care is exactly what it sounds like. By taking a holistic approach to health and managing lifestyle, emotional and psychological health, nutrition, environmental factors, and hereditary risk factors all at once, doctors and patients can prevent serious illnesses before they even start. Millions of people around the world die of preventable causes every year. The proliferation of preventive care that primary care physicians provide could theoretically help avoid these deaths.

Speaking of heredity risk factors, sometimes a disease is going to develop in a patient no matter what they do to try to prevent it. In these cases, primary care delivery can help patients focus on chronic disease management, as opposed to crisis management, which is what occurs when a chronic disease becomes a (possibly life threatening) emergency.

Covering primary care delivery costs

Primary care services have been shown to improve health outcomes, but not everyone utilizes it, and there’s a reason for that. In many cases, primary care is simply a more expensive option; at least on the surface. While long term costs can certainly be decreased, many patients, doctors and governments are simply focused on immediate medical needs. If saving money is a concern, it can be easier on your wallet to simply to go to the hospital or see a doctor only for acute treatment. This will cut out the ‘middle man’ that is a primary care physician, and get a patient to a specialist as quickly as possible. Of course, the more that a person is willing to spend on their healthcare, the better treatment they are likely to receive.

With this in mind Pacific Prime advises that all those who would like to seek primary care services obtain a comprehensive private health insurance plan with benefits for outpatient coverage. With this type of coverage, you will be able to see your primary care doctor on a somewhat regular basis and receive all the necessary screenings that may be required to properly identify potential health problems.

The thing is, many people only possess Individual health insurance with inpatient coverage that will only address the most serious of acute ailments. If this sounds like your plan, it may be time to shop around and upgrade your coverage. That’s where the helpful private health insurance experts at Pacific Prime come in! Not only can we identify any shortcomings within your existing policy, we can give you a free quote and plan comparison for the individual health insurance plans on the market that best fit your needs. That way, you can easily access a primary care provider and get started on the path to better health. Contact us today!

Silver Tsunami Survival: Aging Populations and Your Business

silver tsunami

Over the past few decades the world has seen a trend that is both good and bad: People are living longer than ever before. This mass aging in many developing and developed countries is often referred to as the ‘silver tsunami’ due to its far-reaching and unavoidable nature. “How could this be a bad thing?” you might ask. Obviously, everybody wants to live as long as possible, however this trend has been having effects on sectors of our everyday lives that can be considered negative. The negative effect of the silver tsunami that this article will focus on is the impact it has on healthcare systems and corporate health insurance around the world, and in Asia in particular.

The silver tsunami and healthcare systems

Healthcare systems are already burdened today, but this is likely to get worse in the not-so-distant future as the silver tsunami puts pressure on the likes of which has never been seen before. Virtually all healthcare markets in Asia will likely require an increase in their number of hospital beds. At least 25% are needed, if not more, and that is just to maintain current levels of occupancy, which are already too high in some areas. However, with the anticipated continuing shift of focus from local to international patients, and the resulting increase in demand from medical tourists, some nations will likely need this increase in available beds to be more like 100-250%.

There are certainly many perils stemming from modern living. As we have seen from the experiences of numerous developing and developed countries, there is a whole array of common societal and physical ills that come along with it. This includes poor diet and nutrition, sedentary living and lack of exercise, associated weight gain, and an increased prevalence of chronic conditions and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). In fact, the rate of increase in the occurrence of NCDs has been rising in developing Asia at over twice the rate see in Europe and America, due to the quick advancement and shifting demographics in the region. Because of this, it is projected that this figure will be 21% in Southeast Asia, while developed Western markets will see instances of NCD-related deaths rise by 2% from 2008 to 2030.

To be sure, this would essentially constitute a serious health crisis in the region. This is relevant for elderly people, as they are the ones most likely to develop many NCDs.

The tsunami lands in Asia

Why the silver tsunami could potentially be especially devastating in Asia is due to the landscape of healthcare systems here.  Many countries in the region have placed an emphasis on hospitals and medicine that treats acute health problems, as opposed to preventive care. This makes these countries less prepared to promote the lifestyle changes among their populations that will need to be instituted in order to reduce the threat posed to healthcare systems by the silver tsunami.

This is because, in many cases, the kinds of non-communicable diseases that older people struggle with are difficult to treat after they have developed, whereas implementing lifestyle changes years prior to diagnosis could have stopped the disease from developing entirely. Therefore, if a person is going to the hospital to have an NCD treated, it may already be too late to achieve the best possible outcome.

This is why Asian governmental health organizations should be shifting their focus to programs that emphasize preventive care. Yet, even the most developed healthcare systems in the region (such as those found in Hong Kong and Singapore) currently see less than 50% of their citizens utilizing a primary care physician for their care, instead opting to rely on whichever doctors happen to be staffing local hospitals and emergency departments, as well as specialists rather than GPs.

A tsunami of costs

Governments seem to continue to focus more on subsidizing care for acute conditions, and less on incentives for using preventive care. For example, it is estimated that, in Hong Kong, almost 40% of total admissions to local hospitals could have been avoided through improved primary care efforts.

So what does this mean with regards to the costs of health care and health insurance as we proceed into the future? Let’s examine medical costs first. If you have been paying attention to medical costs in the same nations where the silver tsunami is becoming a major issue, you will no doubt see that the real costs of medical care are rising steadily. While there are many factors at play when medical costs rise, when it comes to caring for the elderly, simple supply and demand is a huge one.

Basically, the longer people live, the more likely they are to need medical treatment, whether for acute or chronic conditions. Since average ages have been rising steadily in recent years, and the number of elderly people has been consistently growing, there has been more and more demand for medical services. This, in turn, means that care providers raise their prices due to increased demand, making having medical insurance is more important to have than ever before.

While many countries do have publicly subsidized healthcare to take care of their citizenry, it is also true that private hospitals are the place to go for the best quality healthcare. So is it true that the costs of care in private hospitals are across the board higher those found in public medical facilities. Since the care in these costly private hospitals is not usually subsidized, receiving the best care without breaking the bank will require a quality comprehensive medical insurance policy.

The silver tsunami and your company’s health insurance

Fortunately for people that are still employed later on in life, they may have access to a group health insurance plan through their employer that will provide coverage for their medical costs. Unfortunately for the employers, they are the ones that will have to deal with the increased cost of health insurance that results from rising medical costs. However, there are steps that your business can take to address this.

Firstly, unlike the governmental health organizations mentioned previously, your company can take a team-based approach to healthcare in the hopes of managing your employees’ lifestyle, thereby leading to better health outcomes later in life. By implementing a wellness program, organizing healthy living seminars, promoting good nutrition, or a whole host of other programs, your business can not only end up saving money on health insurance policies in the long term, but also become very attractive to top tier applicants when seeking out new talent.

Another way to control your medical costs in the long term despite the silver tsunami effect is to partner with an experienced insurance broker that has an intimate knowledge of your local health insurance landscape. Pacific Prime is just such a partner. In fact, many unique aspects of our service make us a preferred partner for over 3,000 businesses and other organizations all over the world.

These include providing a comprehensive comparison of available insurers so that you can identify your best options, examining your company’s claims data to spot trends, negotiating with insurers at renewal time to help keep costs down, and generally making sure that your employees and your company are getting the most from your group health insurance.

To find out more about your best options for group health insurance, and how best to survive the silver tsunami, contact the professionals at Pacific Prime today for a free quote! We can answer all of your questions, analyze where you current plan may be falling short, and recommend new plans that suit your specific needs.

Are you getting the best from your employee benefits broker?

an employee benefits broker smiles warmly from behind his desk

Did you know that brokers and intermediaries account for a significant majority of the businesses in the insurance sector? This is an important point to know when it comes to ensuring you’re getting the best corporate benefits package in the market. Many are well aware of big-name players like Bupa Global and Cigna Global, as well as the insurance services they provide, but how well do you know the employee benefits broker market? And how can you tell if your intermediary measures up against its competitors?

Here, Pacific Prime discusses what an intermediary does, why they exist, and how you can tell if you’re getting the best from your employee benefits broker.

What is an employee benefits broker?

Instead of going direct to an insurer or benefits provider, a broker acts as your middleman. An intermediary is a person or business that sells insurance products on behalf of an insurer or provider, often falling into two types; insurance agents, and independent brokers.

Agents are usually brokers that have a specific provider they sell for. Independent brokers, however, will sell plans and benefits packages from any insurer they’re authorized to sell for. For insurers, this means extending their consumer reach without the need to invest heavily in their own sales capacity.

Understanding the role of an employee benefits broker

Sales is the main role of an employee benefits broker, however, there’s a lot more to their place in the insurance industry than connecting you with the right plan. In fact, the best brokers in the business offer comprehensive services for both clients and insurers.

an employee benefits broker shows a client what his claims data means

For clients

A good comprehensive employee benefits intermediary will not just help you find a plan, but ensure that your plan remains efficient and effective throughout its lifetime. Initially, they’ll want to gather information about your business and staff to gain a decent understanding of the types of package your company will need. From there, a good broker can:

  • Assess your historical claims data to more accurately determine the performance of your current plan
  • Compare your current employee benefits package and premium against the market to ensure it’s still competitive
  • Negotiate with providers to ensure any specific conditions or circumstances can be met
  • Provide education and communications assistance to increase engagement with your staff
  • Assist with policy and benefits administration; including handling staff benefit enquiries, and processing claims and new staff applications
  • Perform annual benchmarking, and planning
  • Carry out the renewal processes. This includes re-negotiating for better terms or opening a tender process to guarantee competitiveness

The more established a broker is, the better their position will be when it comes to negotiation on your behalf. Those with a well-regarded reputation in the insurance and employee benefits industry will grant you an advantage over your competitors by virtue of the fact their influence will be stronger than if you negotiated alone.

For insurers

Brokers also offer a range of added services that help insurers. These include:

  • Reduction or intervention of application and claims errors by brokers who offer processing support
  • Minimize dissatisfaction with benefits by increasing staff education and engagement
  • Replace providers in the role of an insurance advisor and claims data analyst
  • Foster client loyalty where insurers and benefits providers have performed or exceeded expectations
  • Ensure a fair loss ratio that doesn’t take advantage of a client, while still keeping the premium attractive to an insurer

Essentially, an employee benefits broker that works well provides value in their role as a middleman; to both clients and the insurer. An intermediary that doesn’t enrich the relationship between an employee benefits provider and the client can quickly find themselves short on either.

“If you’re left with more questions than answers, perhaps this broker isn’t the right one for you.”

What should I expect from a top benefits intermediary?

Regardless of whether you currently have an existing broker or you’re starting to think you need one, there are a number of core services you should expect from an intermediary:

They’re knowledgeable

Any employee benefits broker worth their money will be well prepared to provide you with answers. Ask them about the products and insurers they sell, as well as the ones they don’t. An honest intermediary will be able to give you the good and the bad of the industry, and explain how these products will benefit your company and staff. They’ll even be transparent about their commission; some countries make divulging this mandatory, but there’s never really a need to be secretive about it.

Also find out how a broker handles your claims data, and question them about what your current claims data tells them. If you’re simply getting answers that you could already get from an insurer, then perhaps they’re not as knowledgeable as they appear.

It is also beneficial to ask any prospective broker about their benchmarking process. Most brokers will have a process, but it’s absolutely worth finding out how their system works and how they think it will benefit you.

Finally, question them about your industry and competitors. A well connected and established broker will be able to give you a picture of how your employee benefits package compares to others in your sector, and will explain just how attractive it might be to potential talent. If you’re left with more questions than answers, perhaps this broker isn’t the right one for your company.

They’re accessible

You should be able to contact a broker when you need to, and bigger companies should expect an account manager or someone with which your management can deal with for high-level discussions. Hands-off, lower tier brokers will only ever contact you during renewal time, find out what communications a potential intermediary offers during the year and why it’s valuable to your working relationship.

Some employee benefits brokers will offer online portals and other digital ways to connect with both your management, and your staff. If these are available, be sure to ask more about how they work.

They’re supportive

A big question for many companies is what exactly a broker will do to make your current processes easier. Some may simply sign you up for an employee benefits package and then leave you to deal with the provider for all administrative duties. Others will take some or all of those duties on themselves, and leave your staff with more time to focus on other priorities. See if the intermediary you’re talking to offers support for applications, claims, or other areas.

It’s also worth finding out if your broker will help develop a communication strategy for educating and engaging your staff about their benefits. A high level of communication is vital to ensuring the satisfaction levels of your employee benefits plan, so question whether an intermediary offers educational seminars, orientations, or other related services.

They’re detailed and analytical

Benchmarking and reporting are important in all businesses, and brokering employee benefits is no exception. An experienced broker will demonstrate their knowledge by showing you things about your claims data that no other will have highlighted before. More than just knowing what to look for, a good employee benefits broker will provide you with clear and concise information related to the health and status of your package, empowering you and your management teams to make the right decision when required.

Those brokers with solid analysis experience will also be able to use the data to negotiate better terms or premiums for your business, dependent on what the information shows. Remember to ask what your company can expect in terms of reporting from a broker, and ask for examples of how companies like yours have had better outcomes delivered as a result of that broker’s service.

an employee benefits broker shakes hands with a client

What makes Pacific Prime believe it’s your best employee benefits broker option?

Not all brokers are specialists in employee benefits. Most major intermediaries specialize in other areas, such as Human Resources or financial services, but a specialized employee benefits broker knows corporate health insurance plans better than most. Pacific Prime specializes in providing employee benefits and corporate insurance solutions for professional service firms of any industry. Here’s what you can expect from our unparalleled brokering service:

  • Veteran employee benefits experience and knowledge: We’ve been operating for nearly 20 years in most major expatriate locations, and we work with virtually all of the top benefits providers in the world. We’re one of the biggest distributors of international health insurance plans for a number of global insurers, and we specialize in delivering services for the high-needs staff of professional service firms.
  • Support beyond sales: We’re one of the most involved employee benefits intermediaries in the market, having designed our entire business process around adding value after sales. We become the main point of contact for your company and staff, look after applications, claims, management and maintenance, staff education, communication; and we even have our own in-house developed technology and tools that can offer you a bespoke, tailor solution that fits your business needs.
  • Industry-leading analysis and insights: We offer unparalleled analysis of claims data, sound advice on current and future employee benefits planning, and can make all of this information available to you whenever you need it – not just at the end of the year.
  • A global footprint: Our global family of dedicated offices are located in many major locations, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, China, and more. Wherever in the world you are, you can be sure that Pacific Prime will be nearby to provide all of these outstanding employee benefits broker services.

We know what our strengths are and we’re confident that you won’t find better elsewhere. If you’re in the market for a new broker, or you believe that engaging an intermediary might be a good next step for your business, we’d love the opportunity to talk to you. Our Corporate consultants will happily meet with you to discuss what our services are, and how we can help you control and improve the employee benefits you offer your staff.

To find out more, visit our Corporate website, or contact our team today to arrange a meeting.