Cancer has a major impact on societies across the world. Half of us will hear the words “you have cancer” at some point in our lives. In Asia alone, more than 6 million people are given the devastating news each year. This number is projected to rise to more than 10 million by 2030, due to an increase in population growth and ageing, as well as changes in the prevalence of established risk factors such as obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol consumption.
Cancer also claims more than 4 million lives each year across Asia . To put this number into context, it’s roughly the equivalent of losing more than half the population of Hong Kong to cancer every year. That is a stark figure and a reminder of the challenge we face in fighting this devastating disease.
Thanks to medical advances, improvements in access to healthcare and improved economic wealth, people are living longer. In many parts of Asia, individuals born in 2013 can now expect to live well into their 70s, 80s and beyond. In 2016, approximately 12.4 per cent of the population in Asia was 60 years or older. This figure is projected to increase to more than a quarter — or 1.3 billion people — by 2050 . Being a disease of ageing, the number of people with cancer is expected to increase as the population ages. This growing ageing population combined with partial state healthcare programs, highlights the increasing need for financial protection against cancer and has already led to rising demand for Critical Illness insurance products across Asia .
Developing insurance products that provide coverage against cancer is not without challenges. It requires medical and actuarial expert knowledge and a deep understanding of consumer behaviour and preferences. A combination of both is vital in developing innovative, accessible and affordable insurance products that meet the growing needs of all consumers, especially with the diverse levels of insurance penetration and demographics in Asia.
The Swiss Re Asia Cancer Trend Study provides a comprehensive view of the changing burden of cancer in Asia and discusses advancements in diagnosis and treatment. It comprises a series of reports on major cancers in Asia, from the gender-specific types like breast, cervical and prostate cancer to those affecting the broader population like colorectal, liver, lung, stomach, and thyroid cancer.
Developing products that create value for consumers in Asia and meeting their needs can be challenging for insurers, as they need to have a deep understanding of the nuances in each market. That's why a separate stream of Swiss Re research was launched to measure consumer preferences for critical illness products in China and India. The findings help insurers identify the drivers behind product choices and better understand customer behaviours and expectations in the world's two largest populations.
Ultimately, granularity is key if insurers want to make an impact in the fight against cancer. No two consumers are the same and neither is their understanding and attitude towards insurance. Elderly people, for example, are at relatively higher risk of developing cancer but remain vastly underinsured when it comes to critical illness protection. Our research enables insurers to segment the markets and tailor their cancer protection products more effectively, providing consumers with the protection they need. This will help to build more resilient societies in China and India by reducing the protection gap for their significant population size.
Read more here about our customer research here:
Critical Illness Insurance in China – Understanding customer preferences
The health insurance frontier in India – Understanding consumer preferences for critical illness cover: A synopsis of findings
 GLOBOCAN 2012, Estimated Cancer Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012. Available http://globocan.iarc.fr/Default.aspx
 Partner Reviews, Growth Potential of Critical Illness Insurance in Asia, September 2015
 Critical illness cover pays a tax-free lump sum if you are diagnosed with a defined critical illness during the policy term.
Category: Funding longer lives: Health/medicine, Long-term care