What’s driving health costs for Asia financial services firms during the COVID-19 pandemic?

People & Organisations
If you would like to learn more or have a question about any of the articles, please get in touch.
This is a question that many of our financial services clients in Asia are asking today. To consider this, we analysed data specific to Hong Kong, one of Asia’s major financial services hubs, focusing on health claims across our financial services client portfolio.
Healthcare utilisation patterns during the pandemic for financial services firms are similar to the general market. However, the average cost of treatment for financial services firms is much higher than the general market, though this was the case even before the pandemic.
Health cost drivers today
The differences in costs are coming primarily from outpatient claims. In Hong Kong, main outpatient diagnoses remain sore throat, upper respiratory infections and skin conditions (as is typical), now joined by back pain on this list. The latter aligns to more financial services employees working from home with longer periods of screen time in an ergonomically incorrect home working set-up. However, back pain can emerge from different sources.
In 2020 maternity costs for financial services firms were significantly higher than the general market. This was despite the fact that the number of maternity cases at financial services firms in Hong Kong decreased at a rate greater than the general market (likely due to the return of some employees to home countries due to the pandemic).
Health cost drivers today 
Outpatient vs Inpatient Claims
Outpatient claims recovery during the pandemic is slightly quicker for financial services firms than the general market. Claims data analysis reveals that the number of musculoskeletal cases increased noticeably in the second half of 2020, with far greater impact for financial services firms than the general market. This could correlate with increased domestic leisure activities, such as hiking or exercising at home.
Leading inpatient cost drivers for financial services firms in Hong Kong were cancer and digestive issues. Compared to financial services firms in Singapore, where digestive issues were also main inpatient cost drivers (similar to Hong Kong) and leading outpatient claim cost drivers were for hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia and back pain.
The Way Forward
The insights above were gained from looking through the rear-view mirror of claims incurred.
Looking ahead, the best way forward will be through the analysis of your own workforce healthcare claims, identifying which ones are modifiable conditions and also where cost can be mitigated via improved network management cost controls. Also important are targeted employee wellbeing interventions – including support for mental health, financial wellbeing, and home working ergonomics.
The Way Forward 
Contact Us