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Investors Poured a Record Amount of Money Into Health Care This Year

$93 billion dollars were invested in health care in 2021 as of Q3

Funding in health care companies reached a record $97.1 billion dollars as of Q3 2021 — more than any other industry and 22% of total dollars raised, according to CBInsight’s State of Venture report. One-in-5 dollars funded went into health care companies as public health continues to be a point of focus societally.

Among the top companies to receive funding in 2021 were drug development companies like Abogen. Located in China, the company has invested in its mRNA vaccine production to bolster China’s COVID-19 response. Its vaccine, unlike others from Moderna and Pfizer, purportedly does not require cold storage for seven days. Companies have also been investigating using the mRNA vaccine to treat other diseases such as shingles and, potentially, cancer.

Other health care companies are looking to artificial intelligence. Olive, a Texas-based company, raised $400 million in 2021 and aims to automate tedious tasks as health care workers deal with a second year of burnout. The cross-section of AI and health care has positive potential, such as detecting anomalies in X-rays or MRI/CAT scans, but also worrying aspects such as reinforcing gender bias.

Analysis: Mental Health a Major Claims Risk for Employers

Across the globe, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of treating mental health as a factor in overall health and well-being. 

In its latest report on employer-provided health care, Mercer Marsh Benefits found that although progress is evident, gaps in mental health care still persist: 16% of insurers report that their plans do not cover mental health services. This is compared to 26% in 2022. 

Emotional or mental risk is now one of the top three risk factors influencing employer-sponsored group medical costs in every region reviewed by the report except Asia and the Middle East/Africa. It’s the third-largest risk globally. (The report does not cover U.S. trends, which are reported separately.) 

The report notes that 2021 was the first year that mental conditions were listed as one of the top five risk factors in any region (Europe). Researchers posit: “This shift could reflect the mental and emotional burden of COVID-19 as well as greater awareness in both the workplace and society of the significance of mental well-being.

Survey: Employee Engagement Continues to Decline

A barrage of headlines in recent years containing phrases such as “quiet quitting” and “Zoom fatigue” may have put a clever name to the feelings employees were experiencing at work. A recent study by Gallup provides some concrete numbers that may explain why words such as these can carry weight. 

In its latest employee engagement analysis, Gallup found a continuing downward trend in how engaged employees feel in their jobs — dropping from 36% of employees in 2020, to 34% in 2021, to 32% in 2022. 

Gallup measures engagement by asking respondents about how well their organizations respond to various needs, which include: having clear expectations, feeling heard and included, feeling supported in growth and development, and even cultivating friendships at work.   

Since 2019, these engagement elements have declined the most: 

  • Clarity of expectations
  • Connection to the mission or purpose of the company
  • Opportunities to learn and grow
  • Opportunities to do what employees do best
  • Feeling cared about at work  

Researchers advise that, above all, leaders clearly communicate their expectations for employees. A lack of clarity can lead to workers feeling confused and unsure of how to achieve their goals and possibly disappointment come review time because of this misalignment.

“People often believe that being overworked is the biggest driver of burnout, but that’s not true,” said Gallup CEO Jon Clifton. “It is a significant driver, but the biggest driver is perceived unfair treatment at work.” 

GDP Growth, Low Unemployment Belies a Growing Food Insecurity Problem in the US

Food insecurity rate in the U.S.

Source: Morning Consult

With the latest GDP report showing a second consecutive quarter of growth in the U.S., and with inflation gently slowing, concerns for an imminent recession may be pushed further into the future. 

But while some of these figures, including a continuing strong labor market, show positive signs for the economy, many still feel the pain when it comes to purchasing basic necessities. 

A recent survey from Morning Consult shows that a growing share of Americans experienced food insecurity in the past year. In December 2022, 15% of U.S. adults said they “often or sometimes did not have enough food to eat,” compared with 10% in December 2021. The authors said this accounts for a “notable rise after a year of persistent price increases.”  

Globally, over 770 million people were undernourished in 2021, according to the most recent data from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Last year, food prices rose to record levels as the Russian invasion of Ukraine destabilized supply chains, as measured by the FAO Food Price Index.

 

Chinese Travelers Are Ready to Venture Outside of the Mainland in 2023

The day after China announced it was lifting its travel ban, outbound flight bookings increased 254% overnight, according to the Chinese travel company Trip.com. After nearly three years of COVID restrictions and lockdowns, eager Chinese tourists are ready to dust off their travel documents again.

A new survey of would-be travelers in Mainland China reveals that nearly 60% want to travel outbound in 2023, while 40% would either stay home or travel domestically, according to the research firm Dragon Trail International.

The top seven destinations outside of Mainland China that tourists plan to visit are in Asia, with Hong Kong, Macao and Thailand leading the top three spots. At No. 7, France was the top destination in Europe, with Australia and Russia rounding out the top 10.

Although some experts note that rising inflation and interest rates may curb demand for travel in 2023, hospitality operators should prepare for an uptick in these new travelers later this year. Survey respondents said they are planning a return to tourism in late summer (42%) and mid-autumn, around China’s national Golden Week holiday (32%).

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