Posted on Jan 12, 2015 by Alex Nellist
It wasn’t that long ago when employees assigned to overseas positions, particularly in Asia, could expect to receive a substantial expatriate package fully inclusive of housing costs, return airline tickets, country club memberships, medical insurance and of course, a handsome salary. The expat scene today mostly paints a different picture and the trend now appears to be that of eliminating such extravagant expatriate packages so as to reduce and contain costs within corporate structures and to focus on hiring ‘local expats’ instead.
However, this does not mean that the hiring rate of international assignees in Asia is decreasing and many countries in the region, particularly Hong Kong, Singapore and China, are still a popular destination for foreign nationals to move to for work. So if international corporations in Asia are indeed slimming down their expat benefit packages, how are they continuing to attract an increasing amount of foreign employees?
Recently, Pacific Prime has noted a resurgence in the value and importance placed into foreign employee health insurance benefits. While costs of living in Asia remain to be affordable, the cost of healthcare is continually increasing, especially as the quality of care in many countries around the region now meets (and often even competes with) Western standards. Furthermore, most expats are unable (or not willing) to make use of the local healthcare systems and so this has ultimately revealed a gap in the market for insurance companies to target expats seeking international private medical insurance.
In Singapore, for example, where foreigners do not benefit from socialized healthcare or government subsidies, “it is simply not possible to hire or retain expats without providing solid benefits for medical insurance’ confirmed the Pacific Prime Corporate Sales Team.
As many expats will be employed on a temporary contract basis, and could be re-assigned to numerous countries within a short time period, expat health insurance plans have been designed to mirror the transient expat lifestyle and allow individuals to change countries without having to start a new plan at each new destination.
Pacific Prime has also organised its own solutions so as to assist corporate employers to provide comprehensive medical insurance benefits for their foreign nationals. In Asia, it is common for employers to want to assign specific policies to employees based on seniority or employee packages. Pacific Prime now provides ‘hybrid’ solutions to allow for this, and these are proving to be increasingly popular as they focus on flexibility in assigning policies to specific levels of seniority for more control. Furthermore, a restructuring of corporate insurance plans often benefits local national employees too as their plan benefits are typically reviewed and improved during the process.
Pacific Prime believes that an attractive insurance benefits plan can fully increase staff retention as well as provide initial incentive for candidates deciding whether to make the move or not. To support corporate employers, Pacific Prime will continue to develop solutions moving forward into 2015 that incorporate the essential aspects of employee health benefits, allowing employers to not only increase their foreign employee retention rate but also to instil a general sense of trust in the workplace.