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 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.

 

Valuing employees key to managing staff retention: Using benefits to show you care

Corporate man reads the business pages outside a coffee shop, symbolizing how people are interested in reading about employee benefits and staff retention

Managing for employee retention takes some strategic thinking and sincere actions to ensure that your staff remain committed to championing your company’s cause. In today’s uncertain economic climate, efforts to re-engage and keep your staff motivated are challenged by the fact that you, like many businesses, might be planning to keep budgets for raises relatively flat. You might have room to reward top performers who have augmented your business during the year, but how do you retain those who just need a little extra time and effort? Valuing employees by offering bonuses in the form of employee benefits can be helpful.

Flatter compensation budgets expected

According to Aon Hewitt, employers in the US aren’t projected to spend more on compensation budgets for 2017. The company’s 2016 Salary Increase Survey found that challenging conditions for businesses and international competition were hampering what businesses were forecasting to spend on staff salaries. Base pay was expected to rise 3.0% in 2017, with spending on variable pay projected to make up 12.8% of payroll. This is despite the local job market improving, meaning many companies may now face more competition for the top talent around.

For businesses looking to attract high performers, or those concerned about trying to retain valued employees in this market, the global professional services firm suggests reconsidering your compensation strategy or emphasizing other benefits. That fact is even more important when you consider that a separate Aon Hewitt report found that lackluster compensation is the reason for 52% of US workers being open to a new job opportunity, and 44% saying they were actively looking for a new role. Only 38% of workers felt they were fairly paid, while 62% recognized pay and benefits as a leading factor in where they would choose to work.

staff retention represented by staff working in a modern office utilizing good employee benefits

Staff retention: why do employees stay or leave?

Salary is obviously still a very strong motivator for individuals; a good pay package earned through hard work can keep staff with you, while an attractive offer from a competitor might entice them away. Sometimes the reasons are things you can’t help; your staff member wants to start a family, they want to return to school, or other personal factors causing them to voluntarily leave a solid position. Focusing on employee retention, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), can also deliver quality, productivity, performance, and employee morale benefits to companies found valuing employees.

Why people leave a company

Here are some common reasons why people, in today’s job market, might consider leaving you for greener pastures:

  • Employee dissatisfaction: This can be anything from a general sense of disconnection from the role, the business, or discontent for the work environment or the people they share their daily time and space with. Those with good skills who feel taken advantaged of, those whose abilities are feeling stifled, or those who simply don’t feel valued because their workplace comfort isn’t a concern of the company, may all start looking elsewhere for a better offer; even if the salary doesn’t compare to what you already pay them.
  • Attractive alternatives: Those who are ready to be recognized more for the work they do may consider leaving a good role with a good environment if they feel the alternatives on offer do a better job of seeing their worth. The bump in salary doesn’t even need to be that high. According to a Gallup survey, 44% of employees would consider taking a job with a different company for a raise of 20% of less. Add generational considerations into the mix, and you’ll also find that 93% of Millennials have changed employers for advancement rather than taking a new position with the same company.
  • Planned/unplanned exits: As mentioned, some employees have personal or professional plans they’re following; to either get married and have children, or to gain enough experience and financial security to move abroad. Others will leave without a map for where they’re headed. Impulse resignations can indicate an individual employee may have found they weren’t the right fit for your business, or it can indicate problems in your workplace (such as harassment or bullying). In both cases, lessons can be learned around what you offer in pay and benefits, and what pulled them away.

Why people stay with a company

Beyond the obvious reward and recognition reasons for why employees stay loyal, here are a few things that help staff retention you might not have thought about:

  • Foundations and networks: The SHRM article further highlighted that employees who have become embedded in their jobs and communities find it harder to justify leaving, as they have developed a web of fulfilling and positive networks and relationships. Leaving for a new employer can mean having to reestablish these connections, often setting an individual back months or even years.
  • Company culture: Employee turnover is costly. Not having a clear and defined organizational identity (with values and goals) can be the difference between whether you or your exiting employees control your workplace culture. If you continually hire staff that don’t fit the culture you want, you’ll quickly find those who do will leave for places that better align with their values. Attracting and retaining people who mesh well with your company environment will reinforce to your current workforce your commitment to valuing employees by ensuring they’re surrounded by like-minded individuals.
  • Employee benefits: Perhaps as an effect of decades of constrained wage negotiations, coupled with the changing way employment and careers are being perceived by younger generations, non-salary benefits are growing in importance for job seekers and the currently-employed alike. According to a Towers Watson (now Willis Towers Watson) survey, 46% of respondents said health care benefits were the most important benefit for people considering job offers. For retention, employees highlighted retiree medical benefits and health care benefits as the most important reason they stay with an employer.

Employee recognition transformation tech company, Bonusly, states that more than one-quarter of employees are in a high-risk-retention category, and more than half of all organizations around the world are struggling to retain some of their most marketable employee groups.

employee staring at a project board, symbolizing an individual's search for the right job and how important employee benefits for staff retention is

How can employee benefits help my company with staff retention?

Valuing your employees is more than just monetary. More and more people are viewing benefits as almost a standard part of an employment package, meaning those companies solely offering salaries are doing themselves a disadvantage. According to the Glassdoor 2015 Employment Confidence Survey, 80% of employees said they would prefer new or additional benefits to a salary increase. Women and men were fairly even in their desire for employee benefits, while the number of younger people (18 to 34, 89%) willing to sacrifice money for perks were higher than their older counterparts (55 to 64, 66%)

Online publication, HR in Asia, has reiterated that the advantage in employment negotiations has shifted from the employer to the employee; workers are more fluid and less tied to a single employer for life, and many expect to find employment elsewhere within three years or less. This means taking into account what employees actually want in their employee benefits is even more crucial to ensuring high retention rates and saving yourself the cost of high turnover.

Again, Glassdoor found these employee benefits were valued highly by respondents:

  • Healthcare insurance (e.g. medical, dental) – 40%
  • Extra vacation/paid time off/annual leave – 37%
  • Performance bonuses – 35%
  • Paid sick days – 32%
  • Retirement plans/pension – 31%
  • Flexible work arrangements (working from home, flexitime) – 30%
  • Employee development – 19%
  • Tuition reimbursement – 18%
  • Employee discounts – 17%
  • Gym memberships/wellness programs – 16%

Career mobility confidence has increased for people who are employed, meaning they’re less concerned about having too few options should they decide to leave their current employer. Only half of employees, however, expect a salary increase, putting more emphasis on ensuring that not just having employee benefits, but having the right employee benefits will be key to showing how companies are valuing employees in fiscally-tight conditions.

Pacific Prime: supporting your staff retention with targeted employee benefits

As the Harvard Business Review will tell you, you don’t need a Google-sized budget in order to offer meaningful and attractive benefits to current and prospective staff. After health insurance or group health benefits, employees will place higher value on benefits that are of relatively low-cost to employers: flexible hours, more paid leave, work-from-home options. However, getting the biggest drawcard, medical insurance, right first can be a huge challenge for many companies.

Using a specialized broker like Pacific Prime can put you ahead of the rest by ensuring that you can get the right type of benefits package that fits your company culture, and meets the desires of the staff you value so highly. Our Corporate team has a range of solutions that are utilized by thousands of professional firms and businesses around the world, including:

  • Experienced group health insurance plans for businesses of all sizes
  • Tailored employee wellness programs
  • Business insurance
  • Travel/international health insurance for globally mobile employees
  • Group life insurance
  • Multijurisdictional management for multi-country companies

Our difference is in our service. Most brokers will sell you an employee benefits plan and leave you to do the rest. At Pacific Prime, we provide ongoing administration and staff support for the life of your policy, and will work with you using our unparalleled broker framework and benchmarking process to ensure that your plan still delivers while remaining cost effective and competitive. Use our market advantage and decades of experience to ensure your company remains attractive, not just to new employees, but your trusted and valued staff too.

To discuss more about how Pacific Prime can support how your company is valuing employees, contact the Corporate team today!

 

Employee benefits for Millennials: what’s really going to attract young workers?

Two Gen Y people point out something in the sky, representing the search for employee benefits for Millennials

As more and more Baby Boomers retire, labor markets around the world are looking to the younger generations in order to source their new leaders and talent. While Gen X are the next in line age-wise, Millennial (or Gen Y) numbers already far outweigh the generation before them, and they’re already poised to take the reins. With such a large pool of talent to choose from, many employers have already begun wondering: do I need to tailor employee benefits for Millennials, and what sort of benefits will attract them?

This week, Pacific Prime discusses Millennial insurance matters. We’re looking at what the size of Gen Y workers will be, whether the insurance industry currently appeals to Millennial values, and what your business can do with your employee benefits to ensure that the best of this group see your company as an attractive employer.

Millennial demographics: just how big are they really?

The age definitions for generations can vary depending on who you ask, though generally Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1997 (making the youngest age 20 and the oldest 36 in 2016). Those before them, the Gen Xers, are usually smaller in number owing to their smaller year range of 1965 to 1980, while the largest generation by far has been the Baby Boomers; those born between 1946 to 1964.

According to US census data interpreted by think tank, Pew Research, the population dynamics between the generations are set for a massive shift in the next 30-odd years: 

Chart showing US population figures by generation, with Millennials holding the highest through to 2050

Why should I care about attracting Millennials?

All these figures go to show that if you haven’t already started hiring Millennials, you might want to start soon. The common belief is that Millennials are “job-hoppers”, and lack any sense of commitment and loyalty to an employer. However, businesses should consider the times in which Gen Y have been entering the workforce. According to Morgan McKinley, Millennials have endured a number of recessions in their lifetimes already; 1998, 2001-2002, and the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008-2009, meaning much of their working lives have been marred by uncertainty and downturns.

A PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) report indicated that more than half of Millennials chose to make compromises when looking for work in such turbulent times. For many, the GFC in 2008 struck as many were graduating university and entering the labor market. They saw their elders being laid off in redundancies, watched friends and peers being rejected for jobs their education years had promised they would find, and many learned to lower their expectations in terms salary and benefits.

What Morgan McKinley have found, in contrast to common misconceptions, is that Millennials are extremely loyal and committed workers. The flip-side to this is that business owners and employers have to work much harder than any generation before them to earn that loyalty and trust. The past few decades have proven that loyalty and hard work can still result in layoffs, so being agile and resilient in the workplace is key to their survival.

Time, however, is wearing upon Millennials and young workers are beginning to prioritize job security much higher than before. As their wealth and assets accumulate, many are seen to be pessimistic about finding new job opportunities. That said, businesses still have time to secure Gen Y workers who come with the sort of resilience, adaptability, and pragmatic skills that can help your company weather disruptive business and economic environments over the next few decades.

Millennial girl with an iced coffee and her mobile phone, displaying some characteristics of Gen Y

Gen Y characteristics: understanding the Millennial

Attracting Millennials with employee benefits and insurance packages can be a difficult task; young people have been notoriously profiled for having little interest in even working in the industry. In general, marketing of insurance products and benefits to Millennials has been slow to adapt to their potential billion dollar buying power. Finding the best way to pitch employee benefits for Millennials should start with understanding who they are. In short, Millennials are:

  • Tech savvy: Gen Y are full of digital natives who were raised in a digital, media-saturated world, are able to adapt quickly to new technologies, and can be incredibly judgmental of products and services with poor customer and user experiences.
  • Social: Millennials are more likely to contribute thoughts, opinions, and experiences via the internet, engage more with businesses and organizations through social media, and participate in social action and community events.
  • Educated: In 2015, 1-in-4 Millennials held a university degree. This may seem strange to those who think of this generation as coffee technicians at your local fair trade cafe, but there is evidence that show that some Millennials are indeed underemployed; working in unskilled jobs or unpaid internships for employment experience while they search for better opportunities.
  • Debt-laden: Due to the high cost of tertiary education, many Gen Y graduates are saddled with high debt before they even start working. This has led to a trend for younger workers to get married and start families later in life, as well as holding back on deciding to own their own home. According to another PwC report, the median age of first-time US home buyers reached the highest age it has been since measures began in 1970; 35 years old.

Furthermore, you can also expect Millennials to prefer to engage with services and products better if they support a public good, or provide a positive social impact. Like other generations, Gen Y can be mistrustful of the insurance industry for the fact that it’s an area where it can be accepted that both sides game the system. Younger workers are highly aware of their own social responsibilities, so you can expect them to turn off from services or organizations that are perceived to cause others harm.

Male Millennial in a suit searches through a crowded street

Attracting the best young talent with employee benefits for Millennials

Tailoring your employee benefits plan to better align with the nature and goals of Millennials will be key to ensuring your business gets their choice of the generation’s top talent. As benefits plans can be different, here are a number of key considerations to understand when developing your workplace package:

1. Go digital

As digital natives, it’s important that Millennials have access to information and services easily and instantly. This can be as simple as providing documentation in a digital format, to leveraging well-designed online platforms such as HR or integrated insurance portals, mobile device applications, or a service provider with a good online user experience. Employee benefits for Millennials should be as digital as possible; no one likes fluffing around with paperwork these days.

2. Push preventative coverage elements

For all of their concerns, their immediate health is often not something most young workers think to consider yet. However, many Millennials are in the stage of their life where embedding good health habits and taking care of their wellbeing is important. Attracting Millennials with robust preventative elements (such as vaccinations, gym memberships, nutritional advice) and explaining their benefits can go a long way in presenting them with the view that you care about your employees.

3. Keep it simple

The downside to being a generation bombarded with various media and distractions every minute of the day means that anything that takes a long time can be a turn off. When it comes to building your employee benefits for Millennials, ensure the benefits and services are easy to use. This can be as simple as using health providers with wide networks and direct billing, to selecting services that use gamification to engage consumers in otherwise tedious matters.

4. Allow flexibility and customization

If possible, you can hook Millennials in by allowing them to personalize the employee benefits you offer. This doesn’t mean creating a new package for every employee; attracting Millennials can be as easy as providing a package of main benefits (such as health insurance) to all employees, and then giving staff the option to pick additional coverage (such as increased dental, extra days off, or personal development tuition support). Providing employees with new options at certain milestones can also be a good way of securing long-term commitment and loyalty.

Getting help with employee benefits for Millennials

Maybe your business is getting ready for a significant change in the makeup of your employees, or you’re an HR expert looking to get one up on your competitors when searching for new talent. When it comes to attracting Millennials, the best decision you’ll make will be to engage with an experienced employee benefits specialist. Our team are constantly reviewing and redesigning the employment packages of many professional clients, helping them to find the best benefits solutions for their current and future staff.

To learn more about how Pacific Prime can help with your corporate solutions, check out our website here or contact our staff directly today!

What your company can do to tackle health insurance fraud

health insurance fraud article

Health insurance fraud is a serious problem for insurance providers and the greater health industry in general, amounting to “tens of billions of dollars” in losses every year. As discussed in our recently released Cost of International Health Insurance – 2017 report, healthcare fraud plays a significant role in driving up the cost of healthcare, and also leads to a subsequent rise in health insurance premiums. Here, we look at health insurance fraud and what can be done to minimize its impact.

What is health insurance fraud?

Medical insurance fraud can be defined asfalse or misleading information [that] is provided to a health insurance company in an attempt to have them pay unauthorized benefits to the policyholder‚ another party‚ or the entity providing services.

Simply put, insurance fraud is the act of misrepresenting facts or outright lying to make money from the health insurance system; potential offenders can be anyone – patients, doctors, hospitals, or even pharmacists. Popular examples of health insurance fraud include falsifying claims, misrepresenting the provider of service, and billing a non-covered service as a covered service.

There’s also abuse, which involves practices that are not deemed medically necessarily, or are outside acceptable standards of professional conduct, thus leading to unnecessary costs being paid (e.g. over-prescribing medications, ordering unnecessary tests, keeping patients at the hospital for longer than necessary).

The impact of health insurance fraud

There are many ways in which health insurance fraud can have an impact on employers and employees, including:

  • Increased health insurance premiums: Continuing challenges related to fraud is one of the main drivers behind increasing health insurance premiums. As premiums continue to increase, health insurance will quickly become unaffordable for both employers and individuals.
  • Cutbacks on benefits: As premiums become more costly, it is more likely that there will be cutbacks on the benefits included in employer-provided health insurance policies (e.g. the removal of dental cover, limits on who is covered, etc.
  • Increased copayments and deductibles: Copayments and deductibles are on the increase, as employees find themselves footing the bill for a higher proportion of their healthcare costs despite having insurance.

What can my company do to tackle fraud?

One of the most effective ways an employer can tackle health insurance fraud and abuse is by educating their employees. Employees should be aware of:

  • What is and isn’t covered by their group plan
  • What constitutes health insurance fraud and abuse
  • How fraud impacts employees and their benefits
  • How to spot fraud and abuse

Below is a checklist of what employees should keep their eyes on to protect themselves, their company, and the healthcare system at large from insurance fraud and abuse, and keep healthcare costs down for everyone:

  • Report any lost or stolen health insurance cards immediately
  • Fill out, sign and date one claim form at a time. Never sign empty or incomplete forms.
  • Always confirm the diagnosis and make sure it correlates with the information on the form
  • Question free offers (e.g. free tests, screenings, and treatments), especially when the healthcare provider asks for your insurance information
  • Know what’s covered and what is not covered by your health insurance
  • Alert the insurer of any suspected fraud or abuse

Partner with Pacific Prime today

By partnering with an insurance specialist like Pacific Prime, you’ll find that we not only help you source the most optimal group health insurance plan, but also answer any questions your employees may have regarding their benefits, or how to spot fraud. To learn more, contact our helpful advisors today, or check out our brand new corporate site.

Key metrics for the success of your group health plan

Group of people discussing their group health plan

Regardless of your industry, there are a number of components that make up the core of the most successful employment benefits packages, one of the most important (and in demand) being health insurance. The question here is how can you or your HR team judge the success of your plan while ensuring it is meeting the needs of your employees? Here, we discuss 7 key metrics that you can employ to help you gauge the success of your group health plan.

Metric 1 – Loss ratio

Calculated by taking the amount you pay (your premium) and dividing it by the amount the insurer pays out in claims, this ratio is essential in determining the health of your plan and is often used in calculating premium increases.

As an HR professional, knowing the ratio of your health plan and comparing it with industry standards can help provide you with a sound negotiation tool when it comes to negotiating premium increases or even coverage elements. In some cases, your current and historical loss ratio can even be used to provide a ballpark estimate on future premiums or premium increases.

Learn more about loss ratios in this article from Pacific Prime Hong Kong.  

Metric 2 – Average claims per member

Calculated by taking the number of claims submitted by the number of employees covered this will tell you, on average, how many claims are submitted each year by your employees. Comparing this to either an industry benchmark or historical average, this can gauge the overall utilization and satisfaction with your group health insurance plan.  

Tracking this metric also generates a wealth of useful group health plan data that can be used to help you not only better understand plan utilization. It also acts as a litmus test that can help to identify problems. For example, by tracking and analyzing the claims submitted by each person we are often able to help HR identify individuals who claim more than average along with individuals who are submitting costly claims.

From there, we help HR teams to work with these employees to help ensure they are receiving the support they need while ensuring claims do not massively impact the loss ratio.

Beyond that, this data can also help to uncover where your employees prefer to receive care. This information can be used to try to steer employees away from certain high-cost providers, or to identify whether the plan is actually meeting their health needs.

Metric 3 – Insurer/broker response time and claims processing time

Time, as you know, is money. Spending hours a day or month on chasing insurers or brokers for information or replying to employees who are having issues with plans can be not only frustrating but also take you away from working on other, possibly more important tasks. This is where this metric can help.

In truth, this metric can actually be made up of a number of similar metrics that when combined help you judge the overall level of service you are getting from an insurer. You can then compare this to your company and employee’s needs and judge whether the plan you have is actually working.

For example, many companies we work with will track things like number of claims vs broker/insurer response time, number of claims vs average time to settle a claim, number of claims vs employee complaints, and most importantly, when the insurer broker communicates.

Generally speaking, insurers with lower premiums will tend to have lower levels of service. Securing a plan like this will often save you money upfront, but if you have to spend half your day calling the insurer, not getting answers, waiting weeks for claims to be settled, waiting weeks for new members to be added, or old members to be removed, etc, you could end up actually paying more in the long run.

It is important to measure when the insurer or broker communicates important information to allow you to make timely decisions. For example, if they take a long time to provide claims details or renewal information this could leave you with little to no breathing room to find better coverage or negotiate for better premiums.

Metric 4 – The number of people covered by the group health plan

Commonly referred to by insurers as ‘participation rate’, this metric looks at the number of employees insured by a plan versus the number of employees eligible for the plan (achieved by dividing number of employees insured by number of eligible employees) and will often compare this percentage with a benchmark for similar businesses. In practice, this metric will actually vary for each company and is normally adapted to meet the type of insurance plan you have selected.

For example, in our experience, many companies are securing group health plans that cover inpatient care only. If an employee wants additional coverage for outpatient care the company will usually cover a percentage of the premium, say 50-80%.

Looking at the number of people who are securing additional coverage or have utilized extra coverage then comparing this to industry benchmarks can be a solid indicator as to the overall success of your plan. If you find that a higher percentage of employees are selecting to add additional coverage than the benchmark this will likely point to the fact that your plan is not being perceived by employees as useful. This, in turn, means it might be worth looking into upping benefits offered by your plan.  

Metric 5 – The ratio of dependents covered by your group health plan

This is certainly a metric that will not be used by all companies, but that said, it is an incredibly important metric for companies who extend their health insurance plan to employee’s dependents.

Calculated by taking the total number of participants and dividing it by the number of employees covered, this ratio can help determine whether you are covering more or less employee’s dependents.

It is important as, in our experience, it is often dependents who have the highest number of claims. This is especially true for children who are covered by the plan as children will statistically have to visit the doctor more often. In turn, this could have adverse effects on premiums your company pays.

If you find that you are ensuring more dependents per employee than is standard it might be worth looking into your plan and seeing whether this is having an impact on your premiums or claims.

Metric 6 – Employee demographics

This metric, calculated by looking at the number of employees and breaking them down into groups such as age, sex, location, etc., can be a major help in the search for group health plans and determining the overall satisfaction with it.

For example, knowing your the age groups of your employees can help you determine what types of cover will be most utilized and the potential medical issues your staff may seek care for. You can then search for plans that meet some of these needs or work to set expectations with existing plans.

Metric 7 – Questions asked  

Like some of the above metrics, this is really more of a series of different related measurements that can be tracked to help you with your plan. For example, by tracking the number of questions asked by new plan joiners, the number of questions asked by more senior staff, etc. you can gauge exactly how engaged people are with the plan.

If you see that new employees ask a fair number of questions regarding health benefits then it is probably a good indicator that there is confusion with the plan and better explanations/onboarding is needed.

It would also pay to track the types of questions asked and by whom. For example, if your team is getting a lot of questions about claims or benefit limits you this indicates that you might be spending an inordinate amount of time answering questions that could be avoided through better documentation. Beyond that, certain questions like “Can I keep my own doctor” could point to demand for a better provider network or potential areas where employees could be unhappy with the plan.

How can I set benchmarks and implement these group health plan metrics?

One of the best ways you or your HR team can implement and track the above metrics is to actually work with a broker like Pacific Prime. In truth, the majority of the above metrics are actually part of our corporate insurance service that we offer to all companies. Our team of corporate insurance experts strive to work with your business to ensure you and your employees have the most optimal coverage while reducing the amount of time you spend managing the plan and answering questions.

To learn more about our group health plan service, visit our new corporate site today.

What makes a good group health insurance company?

Tick boxes for a good group health insurance company

So you’ve set out to find a truly great group health insurance company to handle your organization’s insurance needs. Your team is focused on securing the absolute best possible group health insurance plan both for themselves, their colleagues and the company as a whole, but they begin to realize that finding the right group health insurance company can make all the difference in the world when it comes to finding great long term value from any potential insurance policy.  We all know generally that providing excellent customer service should be a priority for any company that we work with, but what specifically should you be looking for in an insurer? To aid anyone who is in a situation similar to the one above, Pacific Prime is proud to present this feature on what you should look out for when it comes to finding the best group health insurance company.

Group health insurance company experience

If there’s one characteristic that is common among the best group health insurance companies in the world, it’s experience. Putting in leg work and elbow grease over an entire career’s worth of time can really give an insurance agent the know how to get just about any task accomplished efficiently. The relationships that are forged with other insurance professionals can really help an agent’s clients out of some sticky situations. Now, take this individual experience and spread it across an entire company and it’s easy to see where the collective knowledge of a group health insurance company can be a force to be reckoned with. Here are some additional points with regards to experience:

Familiarity with industry

When you’re shopping for group health insurance, it will come as no surprise that you will be better off choosing an insurer that has knowledge and experience within your organization’s particular sector. This is because the group health insurance company will then be familiar with the specific problems that organizations like yours faces on a regular basis. As well, an insurer should be versed in handling an organization of the same size as yours. If they mostly have experience with individual medical insurance policies, they may not be able to handle the workload that a large group policy may require.

For instance, an insurer that is familiar with insuring schools will know all the in and outs of insuring teachers, as well as the importance of addressing your policy requirements at specific times of the year. After all, schools run on a schedule that other businesses don’t, so getting insurance needs done and dusted before the summer break is important. There are many small aspects like this that need to be considered for every industry, and an insurer unfamiliar with yours is much more likely to overlook something that a more experienced insurer would not.

Claims data analytics

Once you’ve actually secured your policy from your group health insurance company, that isn’t the end of the transaction. A group health policy requires regular communication with your insurer combined with ongoing maintenance. This is because the policy will inevitably be used, and claims will be made on it by your members. The thing about these claims is that they can be studied to give insight into the future of your policy. By establishing claims trends, an experienced insurer can then determine if your benefits are serving you as well as they should, and clue you into any potential premium rises way before they actually happen. As well, plan administrators can be notified by the insurer if your employees aren’t using their insurance enough, or if the plan is used far more than originally thought.

Benchmarking

Once enough data has been collected about your organization, how will you know how you stack up versus similar or competing organizations? A competent group health insurance company or broker will be able to provide exactly this type of information. Pacific Prime, for example, has established such a large portfolio of clients over 17+ years of operation that we can confidently explain to our potential members exactly what kinds of benefits they should have to keep up with competitors or how their plan is performing vis-à-vis others in their sector.

Group health insurance company approach

Despite the above section, even a newer group health insurance company can be effective. Sometimes it’s all about their approach to the market and how they regard their clients that makes all the difference. With this in mind, you should be looking for an insurer with some of the following qualities:

Negotiation

When renewal time comes up for your group health insurance policy, negotiations can be tough. This is one of the main points where utilizing an insurance broker will be of special value to you, as they can help you negotiate terms of your next policy with your group health insurance company. Negotiating on your own, you will not have the unbiased advice that comes with a broker, and it will be on your staff to analyze your claims data to try to recognize if you’re getting a good value with your current plan. Pacific Prime’s mantra during the negotiating process is to always look out for our members’ best interests, and not those of the insurance provider.

Manage premium cost and stability

Going right along with negotiations are managing premium costs. At negotiation time, most of the time a group health insurance company is going to want to raise premiums, as medical costs tend to raise year-over-year and other factors are taken into account. What your organization will want is proof that a premium rise is justified, and that it’s not time to switch to another insurer.

Fortunately for Pacific Prime members, they will be able to address potential premium increases armed with knowledge. They will either know that the increase is appropriate, or they will be able to dispute the rise, backed up with facts and statistics that support their argument. Thereby keeping premiums low and, hopefully, avoiding switching insurers on too frequent a basis.

Customized service teams

Many times people will find that they do not get the service they need from a group health insurance company for one of two reasons. The first is that they are assigned a single person to assist them with their insurance plan. While this person may have all the experience and knowledge in the world, sometimes having only a single point of contact to work with will be overwhelming for them, and your plan performance may suffer as a result.

On the other hand, you could be given access to the entirety of the staff that an insurance company has, yet be left without a particular person to hold accountable. This means that, when you’re in need of insurance advice, you may have to explain who you are and what your problem is to somebody that is not familiar with your organization at all.

To avoid both of these issues, it’s best to find a company to work with that will provide you with a bespoke team that will be very familiar with your organization’s specifics. By having a number of people assigned to you, but also limiting the people responsible for your plan’s performance, a balance between knowledge and responsibility can be maintained.

With all of the above points in mind, we are confident that you will find that Pacific Prime are the insurance experts that you should be working with. Not only do we have all of the points above in spades, as a broker we are also in a unique position to offer you plans from the industry’s top insurers. This will save you much time and energy when searching for a new group health insurance plan, because you will not have to sift through all of the insurers and plans on the market to determine which fits you the best. Our agents will find and present the best available options to you, combined with the advice that you can only get from an experienced, multinational insurance broker.

Our agents are available today to help you find the best possible group health insurance company. Contact us today for a plan comparison and free quote!

Pacific Prime launches new corporate section for global businesses

corporate section

Never ones to rest on our laurels, Pacific Prime Insurance Brokers is proud to announce the launch of a new section on our website, PacificPrime.com! The new corporate section is an enhanced one-stop shop for all business insurance needs! If your company has any questions related to group health insurance, international health insurance or any other related topic, be sure to check out this new section, the homepage of which can be found here.

So what’s on offer? Let’s find out:

Insurance solutions

What kind of group health insurance coverages are out there? In the insurance solutions portion of the corporate section, find out about the various facets of group health insurance plans and why you might want to consider each for your employees. Medical insurance does not just mean coverage for medicine, hospital stays and surgeries. There are a number of other benefits that you can consider. This includes dental, vision, wellness, maternity, disability and life insurances, and more!

Outside of these above solutions that will address the needs of your employees, Pacific Prime also provides in this section information about some of the business-specific benefits that every company should know about, including:

  • Property insurance
  • Liability insurances
  • Group travel and accident insurance
  • Professional indemnity insurance
  • Business interruption insurance

With information on comprehensive medical and corporate insurance solutions, this page is a great place to start when searching for group and corporate insurance information.

Our approach

Lots of companies sell insurance for businesses and other organizations. Where Pacific Prime really shines, however, is in our methodology. With over 17 years of insurance broking experience, we now have the various processes that our members use down pat. Not only in assisting with making claims, but also when going through other planning and analysis. Not only do we provide policy broking service, but also consulting and plan administration, which you may not get with other brokers.

Even our closest competitors cannot match the technological advantages that Pacific Prime provides, including:

  • Census and premium management/accounting tools
  • A claims management tool
  • A document management platform

These in-house systems are all yours to take advantage of at zero additional costs versus going with an insurance company directly.  Check the ‘Our approach’ page to start to find out about why Pacific Prime will be your preferred choice.

Partners

As a corporate insurance broker, everything that we offer is one consideration, but it’s still only one piece of the equation where your insurance needs are concerned. We work with a good number of the world’s best global insurance companies, as well as the most highly regarded local insurers in the countries where our offices are located. Our ‘Partners’ section is the place where corporate members can go to find out more about our relationships with insurers.

Beyond the insurers we work with, you can also find out about some of the prestigious members that have made Pacific Prime their choice for group health and corporate insurance benefits. Learn some of the industries that we have the most experience with, such as professional service firms and schools. Then dig a little deeper to find out how our experience translates to advantages for our members when it comes to negotiating plans with insurers at renewal time or analyzing claims data.

Corporate section resources

The last part of the corporate section to mention is our resources page. Here, for corporate members that like to stay up to date on the latest in international insurance data, Pacific Prime regularly publishes reports related to various important industry trends including the cost of health insurance, international medical insurance inflation, and industry trends. Want to know how insurance in the countries in which your organization operates compares to policies found in other areas? Look no further!

Purchasing corporate insurance is no small decision. Pacific Prime recognizes this and wants to make sure that you are delivered the plan which best fits your needs, at a value that fits your budget. We have created the new corporate section to give a great introduction to what we can offer you, but there really is no better way to figure that out today than to contact us! Do so now and get advice directly from one of our insurance advisors. They can provide you with a plan comparison and free quote.