With Singapore's growth as a popular commercial hub in the region, it's no surprise to see a growing population of mobile workforce. This, coupled with the rising cost of healthcare globally, makes it imperative for employers to ensure a comprehensive international medical benefits plan.

According to Mercer Marsh Benefits’ (MMB) latest Singapore Health and Benefits International Medical Study, companies that opt for international medical plans are able to better address the needs of their increasingly regional and mobile workforce.

To provide a snapshot of the international medical benefits provided by employers in Singapore, the study draws insight from information regarding MMB clients' international benefits plans. It includes 56 employers, covering more than 4,600 employees.

The key findings include:

♦ Of the companies surveyed, only 6% offered plans on a voluntary basis, either as standalone options or as part of a flexible benefits proposition. The remaining 94% bore full premium costs for employee coverage on a compulsory basis with international medical plans.

♦ More than 97% of plans provided dependent coverage with benefit limits equal to that of the employee plans.

♦ While all companies (100%) provided inpatient benefits, 98% of companies provided outpatient benefits except for the consumer services industry (91%).

♦ Almost all (99%) of organisations provided psychiatric coverage (limited to a number of days) - a unique benefit with international medical plans.

♦ Emergency medical evacuation is provided by 91% of companies surveyed. The only exceptions were organisations in the material and industrial sector which reported 100% coverage.

♦  Maternity benefits were provided by just 68% of companies. Slightly less than half (46%) reported providing a specified level of coverage for newborn services, while 79% provided coverage for congenital benefits.

♦ 82% of companies in the survey provided wellness benefits - inclusing routine health checks, cancer screenings, cardiovascular examinations, neurological examinations. Again, only organisations in the material and industrial sector reported 100% coverage..

♦ Less common benefits provided were related to dental (61%) and vision (46%).

Neil Narale, Mercer Marsh Benefits, Singapore Health Business Leader, said: "Over the last year, we have seen a growing trend where employees are looking towards more comprehensive healthcare plans to reduce their out-of-pocket exposure. As such, international healthcare plans enable employers to better manage and address the needs of their workforce – whether it is to ensure consistent coverage across the region or globally, or for peace-of-mind when it comes to a mobile workforce that may require frequent travel and relocation."

Narale warns that while an international medical plan can address a number of concerns at a company and employee level, it is important for every organisation to understand its demographic profile when selecting a benefits plan to ensure that the medical coverage is fit for purpose, flexible and adequate for the needs of its employees.

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