Organisations in APAC will see an average 8.7% growth in employer medical benefit costs (or, medical trend rate) in 2020, Aon's latest 2020 Global Medical Trends Rates Report has revealed.

That said, these projections vary by specific locations. For instance, despite a slight drop in rate from 2019, Malaysia has the highest increase in costs at 14%.

Expecting the second highest increase is Thailand, with 13.9%.

Overall, the regional breakdown (from highest to lowest increase) is as follows:

Malaysia 2020: 14% 2019: 16%

Thailand 2020: 13.9% 2019: 9%

Indonesia 2020: 13% 2019: 13%

Vietnam 2020: 11% 2019: 12%

Singapore 2020: 10% 2019: 10%

The Philippines 2020: 9.2% 2019: 10%

India 2020: 8.5% 2019: 9%

Hong Kong 2020: 8.1% 2019: 8.3%

China 2020: 7.5% 2019: 6%

Medical conditions and risk factors with the most impact on healthcare costs in APAC

According to the report, non-communicable diseases have had an increasing impact on medical costs around the world.

Particularly in APAC, the most prevalent conditions driving medical claims include cardiovascular-related issues, cancer, musculoskeletal-related issues, ear, nose and throat problems, and gastrointestinal conditions.

Globally, cardiovascular-related issues, cancer, diabetes, high-blood pressure and musculoskeletal-related issues lead the way.

Apart from medical conditions, the report also affirms the growing prevalence of risk factors in APAC resulting from high-blood pressure, physical inactivity, bad nutrition, obesity, and ageing.

Similarly, countries outside of APAC high-blood pressure, physical inactivity and bad nutrition, together with high cholesterol and poor stress management.

Commenting on the above findings, Tim Dwyer, CEO of Health Solutions, Asia Pacific, Aon, said: " Cost containment strategies are no longer enough to address medical inflation. Organisations in the region must introduce comprehensive programmes that address the physical, emotional, social and financial wellbeing of their employees.

"A proactive people strategy focusing on all these factors will lead to a healthier, engaged, and more productive workforce."

How HR can help encourage a healthy workforce

With these findings in mind, how can HR continue playing a part in building a healthy and happy workforce? Here are some quick resources and company initiatives previously shared on Human Resources Online as some food for thought:

Photo / Aon