Growth in PHL health care costs second-highest in Asia — Mercer

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HEALTH CARE costs in the Philippines are expected to post double-digit growth in 2019 and will continue to rise next year, driven by the higher cost of private health services.

International consultancy firm Mercer Marsh Benefits reported in its 2019 Medical Trends Around the World report that health care inflation in the Philippines is projected at 13.7% in 2019, the second-highest in Asia, after Vietnam’s 14.2%.

Mercer Philippines CEO Teng Alday said in a statement Tuesday that the Philippines’ medical inflation outpaces overall inflation by a wide margin. Inflation was 3.2% in May, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

“The gap between medical inflation and actual inflation continues in the Philippines. Companies must make employer-sponsored medical plans competitive, and prioritize solutions that will provide quality health care in the long term,” she said.

The 2019 Medical Trends Around the World report surveyed 204 insurers from 59 countries.

Globally, medical inflation is thrice the rate of global inflation with Mercer Marsh Benefits reporting: “(M)edical costs continue to outpace general inflation by close to 3x with the global average 9.7% in 2018. A similar increase is expected for 2019 and even higher for 2020.”

The top three health risk drivers globally which influence health care costs are metabolic and cardiovascular risk, dietary risk and emotional/mental risk. For Asia, the top five factors that affect medical care costs are metabolic and cardiovascular risk, occupational risk, environmental risk, dietary risk, and emotional/mental risk.

The report also stated that 78% of insurers in the study are considering “virtual health consultations” or remote care to cut costs and provide access to health care for employees.

“With the future of work demanding a healthy and engaging environment for employees, it is critical that companies assess how medical plans can be reviewed through both cost optimization and employee engagement lenses,” Ms. Alday said. — Gillian M. Cortez