Health and wellness

Hong Kong firms aren’t meeting employees’ expectations on health care, study finds

Research by Cigna finds the biggest gulf between expectations and reality is in GP visits

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 7:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 April, 2017, 10:31pm

There is a growing gap between the health care benefits Hong Kong’s citizens expect from their employers and those with which they are provided, new research has found.

According to a survey by health insurance firm Cigna, there was a significant difference between those benefits that respondents to the survey considered basic for health care coverage compared to the benefits they actually received.

“Hong Kong has one of the highest costs of health care in the world. The ‘health care gap’ has been increasing as costs are rising at a faster rate than the coverage employees receive has been keeping up,” said Patrick Graham, chief executive Asia Pacific for Cigna International Markets.

The survey also found that there was a decline in Hong Kong in the overall “well being index”, particularly in the workplace.

The ‘health care gap’ has been increasing as costs are rising at a faster rate than the coverage employees receive has been keeping up
Patrick Graham, Cigna

The so-called health care gap was most pronounced when it came to employees aged under 30 and those over 60. Those between 30 and 60 reported less of a difference between the coverage that they expected and what they received.

In terms of the services offered, the greatest divide between Hong Kongers’ expectations and what was provided was found to be visits to a general practitioner: 60 per cent of respondents to the survey said they expected GP visits to be included in their coverage from their employers, where as just 18 per cent actually received it.

In areas such as physiotherapy and chiropody the health care gap was far less pronounced.

Hong Kong was not unique in this regard; a similar health care gap can be seen when looking at the answers of respondents across Asia Pacific, and the world as a whole.

The implications of the health care gap for employers appear mixed. The survey found that the availability of wellness programmes, including health care, had little effect on an employee’s decision on where to work, with pay and benefits unsurprisingly proving far more influential.

It did, however, have an effect on an employee’s willingness to stay with an employer.

“Their importance as a retention tool was higher for the 18 to 39-year-old segment,” said Graham. Anecdotally, he said those in that age segment were much more likely to make use of such programmes.