Asia Pacific Employer Medical Benefit Costs to Grow 8.2 Percent in 2022: Aon Survey

  • The 2022 Medical Trend Rate for Asia Pacific is up slightly compared to last year’s 8.0 percent and remains above general price inflation
  • In the past year, utilisation of outpatient services dropped the most in Asia Pacific due to COVID-19 pandemic-related movement restrictions
  • Global health benefit costs to rise 7.4 percent as medical utilisation returns to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels
SINGAPORE (25 October 2021) – Employer-provided medical benefit costs in Asia Pacific are forecasted to rise 8.2 percent in 2022, outpacing general inflation by 5.8 percent, according to the 2022 Global Medical Trend Rates Report recently released by Aon plc (NYSE: AON), a leading global professional services firm.
The utilisation of medical plans has recovered from a low in April 2020 and is expected to exceed pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels during 2022 as pandemic-related movement restrictions are further eased. This, combined with rising inflationary pressures and an expectation that more of the cost of COVID-19 healthcare will transition to the private sector, is increasing cost expectations.
Tim Dwyer, Head of Health Solutions, Asia Pacific, Aon said, “The pandemic caused overall lower utilisation levels in 2020, which provided plan sponsors with some respite. However, the dual effect of higher expected utilisation and inflationary pressures presents new cost challenges that need to be managed. The normalisation in utilisation patterns, emerging risks such as mental and musculoskeletal health and the potential for a greater COVID-19 cost burden to fall on the private sector will require employers to carefully analyse their medical plans as cost pressures increase over the next two renewal cycles.”
According to the report, over the last year there has been a significant increase in musculoskeletal conditions likely brought about by increased work-from-home arrangements. Furthermore, medication-related expenses have experienced some of the largest inflationary increases. However, outpatient upper respiratory tract infection claims were significantly lower than previous years, but these are expected to recover during 2022 as social distancing and movement restrictions are lifted.
“The good news is that there are plan design and behavioural interventions available to mitigate the cost increases. The route will be uncertain and will vary by country, so it is important that companies use data and insights to make better informed decisions to secure commercial protections at their renewals to deal with the volatility,” Dwyer added.
Globally, costs for employer-sponsored medical plans in 2022 are forecasted to increase 7.4 percent, though projected medical trend rates vary significantly by region. Costs are expected to increase the most in the Middle East & Africa, with average medical trend rates forecasted at 11.1 percent. In contrast, Europe is projected to see the lowest average medical premium rate increase, at 5.6 percent.
Forecasted Health Care Benefit Cost Growth from 2021 to 2022
  2021 2022
Global 7.2% 7.4%
Asia Pacific 8.0% 8.2%
Europe 5.5% 5.6%
Latin America & Caribbean 8.8% 10.6%
Middle East & Africa 12.0% 11.1%
North America 7.0% 6.6%
Forecasted Health Care Benefit Cost Growth from 2021 to 2022 for Select Countries in Asia Pacific
  2021 2022
Australia 2.5% 3.1%
China 7.0% 7.0%
Hong Kong 5.3% 5.6%
India 9.0% 13.0%
Indonesia 13.0% 12.2%
Japan 0.0% 0.0%
Malaysia 14.0% 12.0%
Philippines 8.0% 8.0%
Singapore 7.0% 7.0%
South Korea 7.5% 8.0%
Thailand 6.6% 11.7%
Vietnam 8.7% 5.5%
Aon's report confirms the increasing impact of non-communicable diseases on health care costs globally. In Asia Pacific, Cardiovascular disease, Cancer/Tumor Growth, ENT/Lung Disorder/Respiratory, Diabetes and Musculoskeletal/Back were the most prevalent health conditions driving health care claims.
Leading Medical Conditions in Asia Pacific and the World Driving Medical Claims Experience
  Asia Pacific Global
1. Cardiovascular disease Cardiovascular disease
2. Cancer/Tumor Growth Cancer/Tumor Growth
3. ENT/Lung Disorder/Respiratory disorder High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
4. Diabetes Diabetes
5. Musculoskeletal/Back ENT/Lung Disorder/Respiratory disorder
The report also confirms the growing prevalence of modifiable risk factors from unhealthy personal habits in Asia Pacific, such as High Blood Pressure, Physical Inactivity, Poor Stress Management, High Cholesterol and Ageing, which directly contribute to the emergence of non-communicable disease.
Leading Health Risk Factors in Asia Pacific and the World
  Asia Pacific Global
1. High Blood Pressure High Blood Pressure
2. Physical Inactivity Physical Inactivity
3. Poor Stress Management Poor Stress Management
4. High Cholesterol Bad Nutrition
5. Ageing High Cholesterol
“Insurers have responded to emerging needs created by the pandemic by delivering virtual consultations, prescription delivery and support for employee physical and mental wellbeing. While these services are likely to introduce short-term cost pressures, they should - over time - have a controlling effect on medical trend rates,” said Alan Oates, Principal and Actuary, Asia Pacific, Health Solutions at Aon. “As we emerge from the pandemic, employee wellbeing is now, more than ever, critical to controlling costs and boosting organisational productivity, to build a more resilient workforce. Careful analysis of medical claims and population risk factors can target interventions that modify behaviours to reduce the incidence of non-communicable disease. Employers, both large and small, can take immediate action in this area.”

The survey was conducted among 108 Aon offices, each one representative of a country that broker, administer or otherwise advise on employer-sponsored medical plans. The survey responses reflect the medical trend expectations of the Aon professionals based on their interactions with clients and insurance carriers represented in each country.
About Aon
Aon plc (NYSE:AON) Aon is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.
Aon has five specific global solution lines: Commercial Risk Solutions, Reinsurance Solutions, Retirement Solutions, Health Solutions and Data & Analytic Services.
For further information on our capabilities and to learn how we empower results for clients, please visit https://www.aon.com/apac
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