After more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are adopting a ‘living with COVID-19’ approach and pursuing a vaccine-enabled future.
In this climate, it has never been more important for companies to implement risk-management solutions to maximise the safety of their employees and to limit business disruption as much as possible. This article outlines some key changes the Government and insurers are making to support businesses and employees, along with simple ways businesses can respond to the changing needs of their workforce.
1. CHANGES TO HEALTHCARE COVERAGE
The Singapore Government will cover inpatient expenses incurred at public hospitals for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents, and Long-Term Pass Holders.. However, this coverage does not extend to outpatient treatment at General Practitioners, Specialists, and treatments at private medical facilities. Group medical insurance can be activated for these outpatient or private hospitalisation medical expenses not covered by the Government, giving employees peace of mind should they need to seek treatment.
COVID-19 patients who are voluntarily unvaccinated will have to pay their own medical bills from 8 December 2021.
In consideration of the Singapore Government’s requirements for employees entering Singapore, most insurers can also provide medical or inpatient coverage for employees on In-Principal Approvals (IPAs) from their date of arrival in Singapore.
In a show of support for clients, most insurers have also extended coverage to claims arising from COVID-19 and complications from COVID-19 vaccinations in their group medical insurance.
It is an opportune time for companies to review their insurance coverage to ensure it meets mandatory requirements and employees’ medical needs.
2. TRAVEL COVERAGE
Corporate travel is resuming for many employees. Now is the time for companies to ensure their travel policy provides COVID-19 coverage for medical expenses incurred overseas and unforeseen travel inconveniences arising from contracting COVID-19.
Some countries require travellers to have COVID-19 medical and/or travel coverage before entry. Employers should understand these requirements in advance and obtain the relevant documents such as the Certificate of Insurance (COI) prior to travel.
It is also important for employees to have their travel policy details and insurers’ International Assistance and hotline numbers on hand so they can easily seek assistance during their travels if required.
3. MENTAL HEALTH
Many companies have prioritised the implementation of Mental Wellness programs and initiatives to help employees cope with increased stress, depression, and anxiety.
While mental care falls under the exclusions category in most insurance plans, some insurers have adapted their policies to allow the option to provide for mental wellness medical care such as inpatient and outpatient psychiatrist and psychologist visits. This must be specially requested and negotiated into the policy coverage.
Another increasingly popular solution for businesses is the introduction of Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), which provide resources such as counselling services and webinars.
We have seen many of our clients offer ‘Wellness Days Off’ as part of employees’ leave entitlements to encourage employees to focus on their wellbeing.
Honan is a big advocate of Workplace Wellness, and we work closely with our partners to provide resources and support in this area. Feel free to speak to your broker to find out more.
A FINAL NOTE
As employers are increasingly encouraged to provide comprehensive coverage for their employees, clearly communicating changes to the coverage available to them is also critically important.
Client Executive – Global Employee Benefits