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Employer-sponsored healthcare benefits costs in Asia Pacific are estimated to rise by 8.5% this year – rebounding strongly from 2020 figures, which were kept in check due to under-utilisation of medical services as a result of the impact of the pandemic.

Healthcare costs in Hong Kong are tipped to rise by 6.7% in 2021, following a relatively modest rise of 6.2% the previous year, according to Willis Towers Watson’s annual healthcare costs report.

This was significantly outstripped by estimates of sharper rises in this year’s healthcare costs in China (9.3%) and Singapore (8.2%).

India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia are all expecting a double-digit rise in healthcare costs, with New Zealand topping the list with a whopping 20% increase anticipated.

Lowest estimates of the jurisdictions surveyed were South Korea and Taiwan, both expecting relatively modest rises of just 4.0%.

Global medical trends: Healthcare benefit cost growth 2019–2021

wtw healthcare costs 2

“The pandemic undoubtedly had a major impact on slowing trend increases this year as it sparked a sharp decline in non-urgent surgeries and elective care,” said Cedric Luah, head of health & benefits for Asia and Australasia at WTW.

“While most, but not all, countries experienced a lower cost growth this year, that is expected to be short-lived. In fact, we expect to see significant volatility of medical cost in 2021, given the state of the pandemic differs drastically from country to country,” he added.