Singapore—According to the Mercer report, the country’s healthcare cost inflation hit 10 percent in 2018, which is 10 times Singapore’s economic inflation rate.
Around the world, the top three health risk factors that drive medical costs up are still metabolic and cardiovascular risks, dietary risks and emotional and/ or mental risk.
In Asia, environmental risks also ranked number two as a factor in healthcare costs because of the high pollution levels in many big cities in the region.
Mercer Marsh Benefits’ 2019 Medical Trends Around the World report tracks medical trend rates around the globe. These trend rates measure medical cost inflation.
The International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database in January 2019 predicted the country’s economic inflation rate, which actually only reached 0.4 percent.
For 2019, Singapore’s healthcare cost inflation is expected to hit 10.1 percent.
The country’s medical cost inflation is below average for Asia, and Singapore ranked 6th out of the 11 countries that the Mercer report studied. Healthcare costs rose the highest in Vietnam (14.5 percent) and the lowest in South Korea (6 percent).
In Malaysia, Singapore’s closest neighbours, healthcare costs rose by 13.4 percent.
Mercer surveyed 204 insurers in 59 countries, gathering data concerning the increase in costs of medical care in terms of type of care as well as fees and frequency of medical conditions that company employees claimed for last year.
For Singapore, AIA, Aviva, FWD Singapore, and Great Eastern were the insurance partners that took part in the Mercer study.
The Business Times reports Neil Narale, Singapore business leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits, as saying,
“Health and wellness solutions among corporations in Singapore continue to be under-penetrated or poorly designed.
This highlights the potential value of interventions especially among high-risk groups, such as health and wellness programmes to reduce the incidence of disease, and screening for earlier detection of disease.”
According to Mr Narale, employers can choose proactive measures that help workers in order to boost wellness and early intervention. This would aid with employers improving “the health and productivity of employees while controlling future increases in medical costs,” he added.
According to Mercer, more and more insurers are investing in programmes that will allow people to find the right quality and focused care choices faster. Around the world, over two-thirds of insurers are now helping people make better choices for their healthcare through education, tools, and incentives to encourage positive behaviour that will have a good impact on overall health.
According to some industry experts, ageing must also be taken into consideration in the light of healthcare costs.
Last year, Tim Dwyer, CEO, Health Solutions for Aon Asia Pacific said in a statement, “Against the backdrop of an ageing workforce and increasing prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, the time is right for employers across Asia to develop sustainable well-being programmes. This will increase employee engagement, lead to a healthier and more productive workforce and, ultimately, improve business performance.”
According to Wil Gaitan, the senior vice president and global consulting actuary at Aon, “We expect continued cost escalation due to global population ageing, poor lifestyle habits in emerging countries, cost shifting from social health care programmes and the increased prevalence and utilisation of employer-sponsored health plans in many countries.”/ TISG