5 mistakes to avoid when purchasing group health insurance

Warning sign to indicate mistakes with group health insurance

Offering a strong benefits package to employees can be one of the best ways to attract and retain top quality talent. While benefits packages will be different for each and every business there are a number of essential elements that the most successful packages all offer including group health insurance. The problem here is that simply offering health insurance will not guarantee a successful benefits program. Here, we take a look at the top five mistakes managers make when implementing group health insurance and how you can avoid them.

1. Not selecting the right type of coverage

Generally speaking, companies will secure one of two types of plans: local or international plans. Local plans are designed to provide coverage in one country or city. In Hong Kong’s case, local plans will provide coverage of medical bills within Hong Kong.

International plans, on the other hand, are, as the name suggests, international. They provide coverage of medical bills in pretty much every country on earth (many plans will actually exclude the US due to the incredibly high cost of care in the country).

The mistake many group health insurance managers have made in the past is securing an inadequate level of coverage for employees. This is especially true for businesses with multiple offices in different countries and employees who travel between them. If you secure a local, Hong Kong only plan and an employee gets sick while visiting outside of Hong Kong, their medical bills will not be covered.

As a general rule of thumb, if you are going to move employees overseas, or to other countries, for postings it would be advisable to consider securing them an international health insurance plan. This is especially important if they will be traveling or relocating to an area with sub-par health care and will not be eligible to receive care from local facilities.

2. Believing pre-existing conditions are automatically covered

Historically, group health insurance plans have included what insurers refer to as a Medical History Disregarded (MHD). This means that the medical history of those covered by the plan is not taken into account when these people join the plan. In other words, their pre-existing conditions are covered.

While it is still common to find group health insurance plans with a MHD, there is an increasing number of group plans where pre-existing conditions are not covered unless you negotiate an MHD when you secure the plan. If this is the case, there will usually be a higher premium for the plan. Due to this, it is crucial that you review any potential plan you are considering thoroughly to ensure whether pre-existing conditions are covered, or whether MHD is available.

3. Not fully understanding the regional coverage or eligibility requirements

This is a two-fold mistake some plan managers can make. First off, it is important to know the regional requirements around health insurance. What we mean by this is that some countries in the region have implemented health insurance requirements that must be met by any person living in that country.

For example, if you plan to open an office in Dubai and send staff from Hong Kong to the new office it is now mandatory for all residents to secure company sponsored health insurance that meets strict requirements before a visa will be issued.

Beyond that, some insurers will have a compulsory membership clause attached to their group health insurance plans. This is a contractual clause that states that all staff members of a certain level that you have selected to cover with the plan must be covered.

For example, if you choose to secure an international health insurance plan for your senior managers in Hong Kong, all senior managers will be required to be covered by the plan. If a new manager joins, they will be required to be added to the plan.

To be clear here, this is not the case with all group plans but it is something to look out for, especially if you have a growing business.

4. Leaving employees out of the selection process

It is not uncommon for an HR team or managers to come up with what on paper looks like a great group health insurance scheme only to find out that staff aren’t using it. If this is the case, the investment made will not usually see a positive return and could end up costing the company a fair amount of money.

The most successful group insurance plans offer coverage that the employees find to be valuable and usable. The best way to ensure this is to involve your staff during the group insurance selection process. Take the time to ask them what types of coverage they value and believe they would benefit from.

This can help ensure that your staff know what is covered and how to use the plan which in turn reduces the amount of time needed to manage the plan. Beyond that, staff who are invested will usually be more pleased with their benefits which could help increase retention rates.   

5. Going with the cheapest plan

As with many things in business and indeed life, the cheapest solution might not be the best solution. This is true for group health insurance plans, where simply going with the cheapest solution is not always the best idea.

Cheaper plans will tend to have a number of drawbacks that may not be apparent at first. For example, they might offer lower levels of coverage or might not cover specific conditions or treatments. This will have an impact on not only how employees use the plan but also the overall return on investment.

Beyond that, cheaper plans might not offer additional benefits such as wellness that allow companies to build a solid benefit platform on. By including these additional benefits, companies have been able to not only realize an increased return on investment, but employees are often more productive and healthy.   

How to avoid these mistakes

So, how can you ensure that you are selecting the best plan for both your business and your employees? One of the best ways is to work with an employee benefits expert like Pacific Prime. We have a dedicated team who works with group clients to help them secure the right benefits plan for your employees. Click here to learn more about how we can help with group health insurance.

5 questions to ask before purchasing dental insurance in Hong Kong

Teeth to represent dental insurance in Hong Kong

There are many reasons as to why people don’t go to the dentist, one of which is the cost. One of the best ways to offset the cost of going to a dentist is dental insurance. If you are considering securing dental insurance in Hong Kong for you or your family, here are 5 questions you should know the answer to before you purchase a plan.  

1. How much can I expect to pay for dental work in Hong Kong?

Before looking into securing dental insurance it could prove beneficial to be aware of the approximate costs of dental work in Hong Kong. Before we discuss the cost of dental care, however, it is important to point out that, unlike healthcare, the Hong Kong government does not subsidize the cost of dental care for residents of the city unless you are a student or work for the government.

This means that if you need to see a dentist, you are going to have to do so via the private system. As far as costs, like visiting private healthcare facilities, the cost of dental work will vary by office and even dentist. Generally speaking, you can expect to pay around HKD 500 to HKD 2,000 for a consultation and examination with extra work such as fluoride sealant and X-rays costing extra.

At the very least you can use The Prince Philip Dental Hospital’s website as a starting point for the cost of dental care in Hong Kong. As a teaching hospital, the prices will be about as low as they will get. For example, at the Prince Philip, an examination costs between HKD 600 and HKD 1,400 with fluoride costing HKD 500 to HKD 700 and X-rays costing between HKD 100 to 7,500.

2. Do I actually need cover?

The provision of medical benefits to staff is becoming an increasingly popular trend with businesses in Hong Kong. Businesses have come to realize that taking care of your employees can lead to a massive boost in productivity and overall health of employees. Some companies even go so far as to also provide coverage for things like dental and vision.

Therefore, it is a good idea that if you are provided with a company-sponsored insurance plan, you review exactly what is covered by the plan before looking to purchase additional coverage. In some cases, you may have some sort of dental coverage. For example, many medical plans sold in Hong Kong will cover emergency dental care of some sort.

If your company does offer dental coverage it would still be a good idea to review your coverage details, as there may be limits and exclusions included. For example, some plans secured by companies may only allow a single dental visit a year or will require you to visit specific clinics in order for the insurer to cover any dental claims. Knowing this can help you to better understand whether your plan will be enough to cover your needs.

Beyond that, if you have a family it would be a good idea to review your company’s insurance plan. While it is becoming increasingly rare, some companies will extend insurance coverage to an employee’s dependents. If this is the case, there is a high chance that you may not need to secure dental coverage, especially if the limits offered are high enough to cover you and your family’s yearly dental needs.

3. What does dental insurance in Hong Kong cover?

Like other types of insurance sold in the city, each dental insurance plan will provide varying levels of coverage. At the very least, plans will cover routine dental procedures such as:

  • Consultations and examinations
  • Teeth Cleaning
  • X-rays
  • Local anesthesia
  • Fillings
  • Root Canals
  • Emergency dental treatment

Some plans on the market – usually those that offer more comprehensive coverage – will also include major dental procedures such as:

  • Orthodontic work such as medically necessary braces and tooth adjustment
  • Periodontitis treatment or major gum restoration
  • Treatment for gingivitis
  • Bridgework
  • Crowns including replacements
  • Root scaling
  • Dentures

To be clear here: Not every plan will cover the above, some may exclude specific treatments or will attach limits on other types of care. Beyond that, plans that cover major dental care will usually have more costly premiums attached to them.

4. Will I travel for dental care?

The concept of medical tourism has become increasingly popular, with many people going to countries like Thailand for lower cost medical care. While not as common, traveling for dental work has also started to become increasingly popular. Beyond that, many expats have dentists in their home country and prefer to visit them when they travel home.

Regardless of the reason, if you are planning to travel for dental care it might be worth considering whether your plan will cover care while abroad. In order to fully answer this question, it is first necessary to discuss how one can go about securing dental insurance, which is done in the question below.

As noted below, dental coverage is usually part of a medical insurance plan. This means that coverage will usually be dependant on the medical plan. For example, if you secure a health insurance plan with dental coverage for Hong Kong only, you will only be allowed to submit claims for dental work done in Hong Kong.

On the other hand, if you secure international coverage, you should be covered in any countries where your plan can be used. It would, of course, be a good idea to read your policy details to see if there are any conditions that put limitations on dental care. Some insurers, for example, may have a limitation that states that you need to receive care from within a set network in order for the insurer to accept claims.

5. How do I secure dental insurance?

Before we discuss how you can go about securing dental coverage, it is important to note that in Hong Kong there are very few, if any, stand-alone dental insurance plans. Instead, it is usually attached to medical insurance coverage in what’s called a ‘rider’. Riders are additional coverage you add to primary insurance plans and will come with an additional premium.

What this means is that in order to receive dental coverage you are going to need to either have an existing medical insurance plan or purchase a new plan. That said, there are always options available for you. If you would like to learn more about how you can secure dental insurance in Hong Kong, talk with us now.

5 tips for finding the right pregnancy insurance in Hong Kong

woman pregnancy insurance

When you’re looking for pregnancy insurance, you can’t go wrong with the expert advice from Pacific Prime Hong Kong. We’ve previously written about what it is, what it covers and why we need it – but what about some tips for when you’re looking for it? This article will give you the top five tips we have for finding the best pregnancy insurance in Hong Kong.

1. Get insured early!

If there is any one, single most important tip for getting your pregnancy insured, it’s to get covered early. Many maternity policies have a moratorium included meaning that you must hold the policy for at least 10-12 months or more before you’re eligible to make a claim on it. The reason for this is so insurance companies can minimize the risk by only paying out for those families to plan in advance, so it pays to look before you conceive.

2. Know how much your pregnancy will cost without coverage in Hong Kong

Pregnancy insurance, like most insurance policies, exist to help ease the financial burden of receiving healthcare. When you’re looking at purchasing a maternity insurance plan, then it helps to know what the costs of having a child in Hong Kong can be to compare them. The Hospital Authority website shows that an Obstetrics package in a public hospital can cost between HK $39,000 and $90,000.

Private hospitals can vary in price depending on the ward you’re comfortable paying for. A normal delivery in a standard ward at St Paul’s Hospital can cost HK $15,000, while a private room at the Matilda International Hospital will come to HK $43,000 for a normal birth. C-section deliveries can cost even more (a c-section at the Union Hospital will cost HK $23,800 in a standard room).

It’s also important to note that the cost of private maternity deliveries do not include doctor’s fees which can very easily see the cost of your child’s birth skyrocket.

3. Learn what pregnancy insurance will cover

Most of us know now that pregnancies come with a number of tests and scans that are done by hospitals in order to ensure the health of your baby through to delivery. It is important, however, to know exactly what tests, scans and potential unexpected procedures your policy will cover. Being clear with your insurer or broker about your needs will safeguard against having any financial surprises.

Most policies will cover the following:

  • Outpatient care: Pre and post-natal doctor visits, screenings and tests.
  • Inpatient care: Delivery (vaginal or c-section), any emergency hospitalizations for mother or baby either before or after the pregnancy.
  • Incidentals: Coverage for the cost of things like medicine and medical equipment.

Some of the more comprehensive plans will also include coverage for newborn baby care, fertility treatments, congenital birth defects, and treatments required for newborns if something happens after delivery. Knowing what can be covered will help you be more informed about the pregnancy insurance policy you choose.

4. Pay for what you need, not what you don’t

When comparing maternity plans, remember what your needs are so that you’re not unnecessarily paying for things you don’t need. This advice holds true for purchasing any form of insurance, but it is especially true as often pregnancy insurance is not included in a basic health insurance plan. As an add on, you will have to pay an extra premium to ensure that your pregnancy runs smoothly.

5. Get better deals through Pacific Prime

It’s true that you can compare plans yourself online but to get truly lower premiums on pregnancy insurance plans, you’ll want to use an expert insurance broker like Pacific Prime Hong Kong. Their advisers have more than 15 years’ experience in providing insurance solutions and their long standing relationships with some of the world’s most renown insurers means they can offer what many others cannot.

We’ve been keeping up with the state of maternity insurance as well as providing clients and partners alike with informative guides to help keep you better informed about what you’re buying. If you’re looking to be pregnant in the future and want to give your family the best, most well planned start, then contact us today for advice and a free quote!

Childbirth insurance: What is it, what does it cover, and why do we need it?

Childbirth insurance blog post

Childbirth insurance, commonly referred to as maternity insurance, has helped a great number of expecting parents in Hong Kong. The excitement of bringing a new life into the world is also a road fraught with health related risks and complications that can add undue stress to a pregnancy. When you’re thinking of getting pregnant, childbirth insurance should be one of the first things you consider before the journey starts.

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Key insights on medical insurance inflation in Hong Kong

As one of the most expensive regions in the world for private healthcare, the high cost of medical treatment in this city certainly has a major influence on Hong Kong’s rising medical insurance premiums. As indicated in our 2016 report on the Cost of International Health Insurance, the average cost of international health insurance in Hong Kong is USD 11,780 – making it the second most expensive country after the US, where the average cost is USD 17,335.

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