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Talking corporate medical insurance with Jay Hou, head of global mobility and benefits at Jardine Matheson. Robert Blain reports

This is one of the articles from the HR Perspectives section of Human Resource’s 40-page Corporate Health Insurance Guide 2021. To download the full guide, click here.

Is there a new initiative you’d like to share about Jardine Matheson’s medical insurance benefits for employees?

At Jardines, we are committed to ensuring our employee benefits are fit for purpose and relevant to our ever-changing workplace.

In July 2020, we launched our flexible benefits programme for our corporate head office colleagues in Hong Kong. The programme provides flexibility and personalisation to our colleagues, where they can choose employee benefits that matter most to them, and their stage in life.

All colleagues now have the option, once per year, to flex their medical insurance coverage, add/remove dependent coverage, purchase annual leave, and use a pre-loaded flexible spending account towards other wellbeing expenses.

A mentally healthy workplace is as important as ever in these uncertain times. In addition to flexible benefits, 12 months ago, we also enhanced our medical insurance in Hong Kong and Malaysia to include treatment for mental health issues. This was initially launched within our corporate head office and we have begun to see some of our group businesses also make the same enhancements.

“In designing a benefits or insurance programme, co-creation and getting candid and regular employee feedback is essential to understand the needs of colleagues – and provide meaningful benefits to them and their families.”        

From your experience, what is the important element that is most often missing from a company’s medical insurance package?

Two things I’d like to call out. The first is about flexibility and personalisation. We are a bit biased as we have already gone down the route of implementing flexible benefits. But we can certainly reflect back on this decision and say that it was the right one.

Employee feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Giving our employees the choice to adjust their benefits, so that they can maximise the value of what they receive, is invaluable. It also means that we are getting a better return on our investment into the benefits, as we are investing in offering benefits choices rather than in more insurance which may be under utilised or unnecessary.

The second point is about co-creation with employees and employee feedback. In a world of consumerism and digital advancements, the employee experience is constantly evolving. Our employees are also much more savvy in understanding their total reward and what is most meaningful to them.

In designing any benefits or insurance programme, co-creation and getting candid and regular employee feedback is essential so that we understand the needs of our colleagues, and provide meaningful benefits to them and their families.

How can organisations handle escalating medical insurance costs?

Medical inflation continues to be an expected trend in Asia and despite the pandemic resulting in lower medical claims it doesn’t look like medical inflation will slow down significantly.

Companies should take a step back at look at the structure of their medical insurance – what are their main objectives? Is it offering choice in clinics? Is it great hospitalisation coverage, so employees are well covered in this time of need? These questions, and more, need to be asked, and employees consulted. The company can then redesign insurance programmes and offerings to ensure that the money is spent where it matters.

It’s also interesting to consider measures outside insurance – if adding a new benefit to the insurance programme is costly, can it be self-funded instead? Would providing a flexible spending account to employees be more meaningful than spending large amounts to enhance medical benefits that might be under utilised?

How has the pandemic affected medical insurance benefits offered to mobile employees?

It’s as important as ever for companies to be very clear about the geographical boundaries of their insurance coverage and to ensure their employees are aware of the scope of coverage.

It’s quite common nowadays for colleagues to be stranded in a location outside of their place of work. Are they covered by their medical insurance? What will they do in an emergency medical situation? It’s critical for companies to be clear and communicate on these matters and remind colleagues regularly.

This is one of the articles from the HR Perspectives section of Human Resource’s 40-page Corporate Health Insurance Guide 2021. To download the full guide, click here.

Highlights of the guide include:

  • Market analysis: Expert insights from Aon’s Medical Trends Report
  • Industry viewpoints: Insider knowledge for corporates, SMEs and start-ups
  • HR perspectives: The pros share their wisdom on boosting employees’ healthcare benefits
  • Handy overview of Hong Kong’s top medical insurance providers