Mind the health protection gap

Swiss Re Asia-Pacific scans the health and medical landscape to analyse the region's future financing needs, including health care expenditure levels required to meet consumer demand, in the study Health Protection Gap: Asia-Pacific 2012.

By 2020, the Asia-Pacific region could experience a USD 197 billion shortfall in healthcare financing. That's one of the major findings in the latest Swiss Re study Health Protection Gap: Asia-Pacific 2012.

A health protection gap is the difference between the level of healthcare costs required to meet consumer needs and the amount available to cover those costs if the total expenditure remains a constant percentage of a society's GDP.

More health and insurance coverage needed

Total spending for healthcare in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to increase 8.2% per year to USD 2.7 trillion. The rising trends show "the developing need for more health and insurance coverage across the Asia-Pacific," says David Alexander, Head Business Development Asia, Swiss Re.

The study compared 13 Asia-Pacific markets. According to the findings, China, India, Japan and South Korea will experience the widest gaps by 2020. Overall factors for the increasing distance between consumer needs and expenditure include an ageing population that's living longer, government spending controls and rising medical costs.

Higher spending for emerging markets

Healthcare spending in emerging markets is expected to grow even faster, a result of robust economic growth. This growth brings further demand to the healthcare industry.

"People and countries tend to spend more on health and medical as they get wealthier," says Clarence Wong, Head of Economic Research & Consulting, Asia-Pacific, Swiss Re.

"With economic growth in Asia-Pacific, especially in emerging markets, rising household income will lead to higher spending on health and medical care." 

Important role for insurers, health industry

Greater awareness is needed in the general public about the benefits of insurance protection, a role that the health and insurance industry is well-placed to take on. New products made available through current and future distribution channels, along with efficient service, are some of the ways that can be used.

Swiss Re ready to work with clients to better manage the gap

With our history, global strength and expertise, we are ready to team up with our clients to understand and re-think the customers' healthcare needs that will help create new solutions to these challenges; solutions which allow societies to fund the changes needed to support their ageing populations in a sustainable way.

To learn more about Asia Health insurance, please visit Asia: healthcare funding in retirement a growing concern.

Published 21 December 2012


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