SINGAPORE (June 10): Singapore’s medical trend rate of 10% outpaced economic inflation 10-fold in 2018, and is expected to rise by 0.1% in 2019, according to Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) 2019 Trends Around the World report.

Insurers are also predicting further increases in 2020.

As the cost of health benefit programmes continues to rise in Singapore, employers have the opportunity to contain cost through smarter plan design and employee access to quality-focused healthcare.

According to the report, the top three health risk factors influencing medical cost globally remain to be metabolic and cardiovascular risk, dietary risk and emotional/mental risk.

In Asia however, environmental risks top the charts, accounting for 52% of medical costs, as the effects of high pollution levels in many major cities take their toll.

In response, the number of insurers investing in initiatives to enable quality-focused care, to better guide members to the right care options for them more quickly, has more than doubled. Globally, 29% now name this type of investment as a top strategic priority.

Insurers are also helping members to make smarter healthcare-related decisions, as 63% of insurers now providing education, tools and incentives to drive positive behaviour. Globally, 78% are now considering or already support virtual health consultations.

Hervé Balzano, Mercer Marsh Benefits international leader says, “The future of work demands healthy and engaged employees. As the cost of providing medical benefits continue to rise, employers should assess how to make the most of plan design, including giving access to quality-based care to drive better outcomes. Plans should be reviewed with both cost optimisation and employee engagement lenses.”