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Challenge of health longevity viewed with growing concern

Health longevity, or the length of a time people think they will remain in good health, is an emerging concern among Filipinos surveyed, especially as they consider the financial costs of critical illnesses against a backdrop of economic uncertainties, according to a new study by Manulife.

The new “Manulife Asia Care Survey 2023” shows that while the surveyed Filipinos on average expect to retire at 59 years of age, they anticipate only remaining healthy for three years post-retirement. Of those surveyed, Filipino millennials aged 25 to 34 are the most pessimistic, believing they will only remain healthy until they are 55, below the average perceived health longevity.

“Filipinos are realizing that personal health issues cannot be isolated from the financial implications of critical illness, along with wider economic uncertainties,” said Mr. Rahul Hora, president and CEO of Manulife Philippines. “While it is inevitable that our bodies change as we age and that the state of the global economy may be beyond our control, Filipinos can take proactive steps to strengthen their health and finances and have a more financially secure future.”

Improving health to reduce risks associated with healthcare costs

The Manulife study noted that the financial risk posed by poor health lies in the cost of medical treatment, a significant concern for many Filipinos. Nearly half (49%) of those surveyed said that the expense of treatment was their number one health management worry. Other concerns of those surveyed include loss of income or job because of illness (37%) and not knowing who will take care of them in the event of illness (26%). Almost all of those surveyed are worried about at least one illness, with heart disease, diabetes and cancer being the top three main fears.

The Manulife study also found that around a third of Filipinos surveyed believe they currently enjoy excellent physical and mental health. With concerns about both their current health and health longevity, nearly all Filipinos surveyed claim that they are taking actions to manage their well-being through exercise (65%), better diet (62%), regular body checks (52%), and closer self-monitoring (50%).

Interest in health insurance on the rise

With their interwoven concerns about their health, finances and the economy, the Filipinos surveyed are clearly interested in insurance (80%), the highest in the region (average 68%), mainly because of the protection it offers against financial risk (54%). However, their current ownership of insurance (59%) is the lowest in the region (average 70%). In the next 12 months, however, 87% of those surveyed said they intend to buy insurance, with health (36%), life (34%), and hospitalization (33%) insurance topping the list.

Filipinos are the most worried about inflation in the region

Despite their concerns about the future, especially about health, most of those surveyed (57%) feel confident about their current finances, with more than three-quarters (77%) expecting their finances to improve in the coming 12 months.

Almost three-quarters express confidence in being able to achieve their financial goals (72%), such as saving for retirement (55%), paying for healthcare and medical treatment costs (43%), and emergencies (36%). This optimism, which may be reflective of a post-COVID euphoria and, to an extent, the mobility of the workforce, is tempered by the threat of inflation (75%), which has emerged as the most prominent financial concern among Filipinos polled, more than in any of the other markets surveyed in the region.

The other main threats cited are an economic slowdown (56%) and rising healthcare costs (38%). These concerns may have merit given that 81% of Filipinos surveyed said that cash and bank deposits are the primary ways they believe will help achieve their goals.

The “Manulife Asia Care Survey” was conducted via online self-completed questionnaires in seven markets: mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. A total of 7,224 people, aged 25 to 60 years old, were surveyed in late December 2022 and early January 2023. In the Philippines, 1,004 people were surveyed. Each person surveyed either owns insurance or intends to buy insurance.



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