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Asia: healthcare funding in retirement a growing concern

Consumers in Asia are worried that they won't be able to fund their healthcare during retirement, a view that insurers can change through simplifying products and services.

We all want to spend our golden years in relative comfort and security. But for a majority of respondents interviewed for Swiss Re's survey Spotlight on Consumer Health: Healthcare funding in retirement, rising retirement costs are a big concern.

The survey interviewed a group of more than 2,400 people in 5 key Asian markets, consisting of "pre-retirees" (aged 40-59) and "retirees" (aged 60 and above), on their attitudes toward healthcare after retirement.  Over 60% of the participants stated that they were worried about their ability to pay for health services and planned to rely on their savings.

The respondents, who hailed from China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore and Japan, also said that they were also considering placing their bets on their respective governments' healthcare schemes for future expenses. On the other hand, they doubted the ability of those same governments to provide for their needs.

Varied preparedness across the region

According to the survey, a majority of pre-retirees and retirees believe that health insurance is essential, but actual preparedness varies across the region. Over half of pre-retirees from China, Hong Kong and Singapore believe they are prepared for after-retirement healthcare expenses, while less than 35 percent of respondents from South Korea and Japan said the same.

Hong Kong retirees are the least prepared for future health expenses and own the lowest percentage of health insurance out of all the markets covered. In addition, they say they do not know much about health insurance, and so they do not see the  need for it, and plan instead to rely on their families to fund their retirement healthcare.

"More work has to be done in educating the public to view insurance as a good potential source of funds in retirement with a lower risk than investment to ease the financial burden for self and family," says Robert Burr, Head Life & Health Asia for Swiss Re.

Keep it simple

Low levels of understanding about health insurance wasn't the only perception gleaned from the results. High costs and existing government funding were also seen as factors that discouraged participants from purchasing insurance. 

"It is essential for insurers to re-think their consumers' needs and develop simple and affordable health insurance products for retirement," says Marianne Gilchrist, Swiss Re Head of Health Solutions Asia.

"Packaged health insurance with value-added features such as additional cancer benefits and regular medical health check-ups may help trigger further interest among retirees."

To learn more about Asia Health insurance, please visit Mind the health protection gap.

Published 7 January 2013

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