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Expecting costlier healthcare

A survey of 209 medical insurers from 61 countries by global advisory and brokerage firm Willis Towers Watson (WTW) expects employer-sponsored healthcare benefits costs that are usually insured under insurance providers to rise a projected 14.4 percent on average this year in the Philippines.

Filipino employers that are already struggling with a sluggish economy that is still recovering from one of the worst-ranked pandemic responses in the planet should expect to shell out more funds to meet the growing healthcare needs of their employees.

WTW found that in Asia, employers should brace for bigger healthcare spending as it is projected to expand by 7.6 percent this year, as different waves of infection in the globe at different points in time create “considerable volatility in healthcare utilization and costs around the world.”

“The pandemic, combined with the changing face of work, has had a significant effect on healthcare needs, delivery of services and the future drivers of medical claims, which in turn will have impact on medical inflation trends,” WTW international head of health and benefits Cedric Luah said.

Healthcare spending in the Philippines has risen, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed. In 2020, overall health spending in the country, with public expenditures factored in, rose 12.6 percent year-on-year to P895.9 billion as the COVID-19 pandemic upended the public healthcare system.

The WTW survey also revealed factors that pushed medical costs up for insurers: 64% said overuse of care due to medical professionals recommending too many services or overprescribing. Excess of care by insured members and the underuse of preventive services also drove costs and spending up, especially as many opted to delay medical care during the pandemic.

Increased healthcare costs affect everyone, not just employers. With costs expected to rise further, the private sector will have to prepare to bear the added burden if government cannot find the ways and means to keep it down as we continue to deal with the pandemic and our economy hopefully eases towards the recovery we have all been longing for.*

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January 2022
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