Health Insurance in a Post-Covid Era: Navigating New Wellness, Work & Lifestyle Trends — What Does It Mean for Singapore?

Bupa Global - health insurance - survey findings
Bupa Global - health insurance - survey findings

Life has certainly changed a lot ever since the pandemic hit. Beyond the immediate changes like border restrictions and Covid testing requirements, there are also deeper and more far-reaching alterations that we have to make on how we live and work.

The pandemic was the “world’s biggest experiment on remote working”, as the authors of this Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) paper put it, and hybrid work is now practically a given.

This has led to a new kind of “virtual mobility”, a term that the head of job portal Seek Asia’s Peter Bithos has used to describe the ability to work from anywhere, not necessarily in the same country as one’s employer.

Related: Why Getting International Health Insurance in Singapore is Worthwhile (Even if You’re Not a Global Citizen)

This sort of fluidity could very well be a new norm in the post-Covid era, alongside changing attitudes towards remote work. In a recent study, 60% of workers in Singapore said they would consider looking for another job if their employer insisted on a full-time return to on-premise working, while 38% of Singapore workers would be willing to take a paycut to guarantee flexibility of location in where they work. This trend reflects the broader global movement of wealthy professionals across countries against a backdrop of war and political chaos.

At the same time, attitudes towards health have changed in Singapore and across the globe, whereby people have grown to embrace a more holistic view of health.

The pandemic has also made young people more risk-aware, which influences the way they think about health insurance. To cater to digital natives, the insurance industry might start looking towards telehealth, with the goal of making healthcare as convenient as any of our favourite apps.

These changes also signify changing needs that could determine the way professionals and HNWIs (high net worth individuals) approach health insurance. The following are the three major trends that have been identified for Singapore.

 

Trend #1: Spotlight on mental health

The pandemic has certainly taken its toll on our mental health, with both global and local statistics pointing to increases in anxiety and depression worldwide. Perhaps this has spurred institutions such as A*Star to start studying issues such as angst and anger. Yet there’s still a long way to go — the mental healthcare industry is still fragmented and support remains patchy. And among those whose mental health has been most affected are those aged 21 to 29, and 40 to 49.

Another group is HNWIs such as business leaders. International healthcare specialist Bupa Global recently revealed in its latest Executive Wellbeing Index that 99% of Singapore HNWIs experienced poor mental health in the past year — much higher than the 89% global average.

The key reasons for stress include macro issues such as inflation and business uncertainty, alongside personal relationships and the day-to-day worries around running a company. These factors have led to symptoms such as mood swings, poor sleep, anger and even difficulty in decision-making.

Fortunately, growing awareness around mental wellbeing has led many business leaders to adopt practices) like exercising and journaling, with some seeking help from their insurers and even seeking professional medical help. 

 

Trend #2: Move towards relocation and hybrid working

After almost two years of mandatory working from home, hybrid work is no longer a job perk but a basic expectation around the world. In Singapore, 2 in 5 workers said they would rather be unemployed than feel unhappy in their jobs; with 77% and 80% valuing the importance of remote work and flexible hours respectively. They could even pick this over a bigger bonus.

These findings suggest that flexible work is of intrinsic (non-monetary) value to people. Indeed, an IPS study hypothesised that hybrid work allows caregivers and parents to better balance home and work, while also giving men the chance to participate more fully in family life.

In Singapore, hybrid work has found official support from the likes of the Singapore National Employers Federation and the Minister of State for Manpower. Leading the charge in implementation are the government’s Public Service Division as well as local banks like DBS and UOB.

This new norm of remote work has led some Singaporeans to seek better (remote) work prospects with overseas companies, while others combine work with adventure by becoming digital nomads, as reported by The Straits Times.

According to the Bupa Global Wellbeing Index, remote work for HNWIs is an opportunity to improve one’s mental health. 51% of polled HNWIs in Singapore want to make major career changes to improve their work-life balance in the coming year, including 11% who plan to relocate out of Singapore. This is on top of the 15% of Singapore HNWIs who have already relocated in the past year.

For these high-earners, relocating outside of the fast-paced city could help improve their work-life balance, while others may simply want to reunite with family or friends living in other countries.

 

Trend #3: Inflation

Finally, with global inflation set to rise to 7.5% by the end of the year, and inflation expectations in Singapore at an 11-year high, it is no wonder the cost of living and business uncertainties are top concerns among HNWIs around the world.

For business owners and decision-makers, inflation pressures can lead to extra stress as they need to balance their company budgets as well as their household ones.

The Bupa Global Wellbeing Index also revealed that more leaders are shifting their business spending away from payroll to “soft” benefits such as gym memberships, meals and healthcare perks. In Singapore alone, companies plan to spend an estimated £2.4 million (about S$3.8 million) in 2023 to support employee wellbeing and mental health.

 

Changing private health insurance needs

The three trends above reveal that health insurance needs are changing.

Professionals and HNWIs now place a high value on health and well-being in the post-Covid era. They may seek high coverage and broader forms of support, especially in areas such as mental health and preventative care. This is particularly relevant in light of inflation and increasing medical costs.

In addition, work is no longer tied to a geographical location. If we’re witnessing the unprecedented movement of individuals across borders, our health insurance also needs to evolve. For instance, an international health insurance policy may be more suitable than a composite portfolio of multiple local insurance plans.

Whether Singaporean, permanent resident or foreigner, mobile professionals here can acquire premium international health insurance coverage from Worldwide Health Options, offered by Raffles Health Insurance and Bupa Global.

The core plan covers essential medical treatment up to an annual maximum of US$2.89 million across the globe with optional US cover. Created for those who appreciate a higher level of protection, Worldwide Health Options is customisable. Policyholders can adjust coverage according to evolving needs and opt to cover preventive care and outpatient specialist treatment, among others. Pre-existing and chronic conditions could also be covered subject to underwriting.

The plan covers mental health treatment up to the limits of the policy, caring for both the body and mind. Whether at home and on the go, policyholders get 24/7 access to virtual consultations with a global network of medical experts through Global Virtual Care mobile app.

Health insurance is evolving. No matter where life takes you, stay protected and enjoy top-tier healthcare with a premium international health insurance plan like Worldwide Health Options from Raffles Health Insurance and Bupa Global. Click here to learn more.

 

Disclaimer:
Raffles Health Insurance Pte Ltd (“RHI”) (Company Registration Number: 200413569G) is the insurer and Bupa Global, the trading name of Bupa Insurance Services Limited, is the international administrator of the RHI international health insurance plans.
This is only the product information provided by Raffles Health Insurance Pte Ltd. You should seek advice from a qualified adviser if in doubt. Buying health insurance products that are not suitable for you may impact your ability to finance future healthcare needs. This brochure is not a contract of insurance. The standard terms and conditions of this plan are provided in the relevant policy contract. Details are correct at the time of printing and may be subject to change in future.
This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact your insurer or visit the GIA/LIA or SDIC web-sites (www.gia.org.sg or www.lia.org.sg or www.sdic.org.sg).


This post was written in collaboration with Raffles Health Insurance and Bupa Global. While we are financially compensated by them, we nonetheless strive to maintain our editorial integrity and review products with the same objective lens. We are committed to providing the best information in order for you to make personal financial decisions with confidence. You can view our Editorial Guidelines here.

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Original article: Health Insurance in a Post-Covid Era: Navigating New Wellness, Work & Lifestyle Trends — What Does It Mean for Singapore?.

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