That the world is ageing is not news. But the ageing issue demands close attention in Asia, because the region is ageing at unprecedented rates. Asia is already home to some of the oldest populations in the world – in Japan, more than 30% the population is over 60 years old, and the country's median age is 44. China has the world's largest elderly population, with over 180 million of its people over the age of 60, and a median age of 38. Singapore and Hong Kong have the world's fastest ageing populations, with their elderly populations set to quadruple and treble respectively, and both countries are projected to have more than 30% of their populations over the age of 60 by 2040.
Swiss Re recently undertook a survey looking at how people aged 40 and over plan to fund their healthcare expenses in retirement. The results were a clear reminder of the economic and societal changes across the region, as well as a wake-up call for the insurance industry. The survey, conducted in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, South Korea and Japan, found that those aged 40-59 plan to depend heavily on government healthcare schemes, and on their personal savings. That said, more than two thirds felt that government healthcare provision would be insufficient to meet their needs, and that they would take action.
Buying insurance was one course of action, although intention to purchase varied widely from 57% in China to 14% in Japan. Of these, the majority planned to purchase health insurance. Between 50% (China) and 32% (Japan) planned to rely on insurance they already owned. A minority planned to rely on their families to pay their health and medical expenses. The variation in this minority ranged from 20% in China and 15% in Hong Kong, to 6% in South Korea and 3% in Singapore and Japan.
What this tells us is that there is a clear role for health insurance in people's retirement funding plans, and that people in Asia no longer plan to rely on their families to take care of them when they retire. There is a clear opportunity for greater public/private partnership in ensuring that people can retire safe in the knowledge that their healthcare funding needs are secured.
Category: Funding longer lives: Pension/retirement