HONG KONG SAR –
Media OutReach – 20 February 2023 – A recent survey on “Healthcare Protection in the Greater Bay Area (GBA)” (note 1) conducted by FWD Hong Kong (“FWD”) has found that Hong Kongers anticipate a huge increase in medical expenditure in the future which would impose financial burden on them. However, unlike the respondents in GBA, fewer Hongkongers are prepared to make use of medical or critical illness insurance to build reserve. Unable to shoulder the hefty medical expenses, 40% of Hong Kongers admitted that they might have to consider giving up the best treatment options as a result.
The survey was conducted in September 2022 in 11 cities (note 1) with a view to understand respondents’ views on healthcare protection plans for individuals and their families, in particular their budget for expenses on medical and critical illnesses. A total of 2,410 GBA residents aged between 18 and 60 were polled, including 500 from Hong Kong, 102 from Macau and 1,808 from nine other Mainland cities. Key survey findings are as follows:
1) Considerable pressure coping with future medical expenses in general, some might just relinquish treatment
Huge healthcare expenditure anticipated in the future: Around 60 to 75% of respondents in Hong Kong, Macau and the Mainland expected medical expenditure for both individuals and family members would likely be increased by over 20% in 10 years’ time, the costliest being treatment for critical/serious illnesses (such as cancer, cardiac diseases and stroke).
Heavy financial burden brought by healthcare expenditure: Around 70% of respondents said that medical expenses for themselves and their families would create a “very heavy” or “rather heavy” financial burden within the next 10 years. The ratios of respondents from Hong Kong (76%) and Macau (78%) were higher than that from the Mainland (65%).
Hong Kongers passive in response, some even considered giving up medical treatment: In spite of the financial burden they faced, many Hongkongers were still passive in dealing with the insufficient health insurance coverage issue, such as choosing to cut down other daily spendings (82%) or cash in their savings (73%) instead. Nearly 40% of Hongkongers (37%) said they would opt to give up medical treatment or the best medical solutions, the highest among respondents in three regions.
2) Hong Kong: lowest rate of health insurance coverage in GBA
Hong Kong has the lowest health insurance penetration rate in GBA: Even though 95% of Hong Kongers considered healthcare protection as “rather important” or “very important”, only around half have medical insurance plans (including Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme – VHIS) or critical illness insurance (56% and 49% respectively). The ratios were considerably lower than those from Macau (71%, 46%) and the Mainland (80%, 70%)
Health insurance spending relatively low among Hongkongers: The survey also indicated that 70% Hongkongers spent no more than 20% of their household income annually on medical insurance or critical illness insurance (76% and 75% respectively), presenting an obvious disparity with Macau where about half of the respondents (49%, 62%) allocated over 20% of their household income on insurance protection.
3) Hongkongers tend to overlook the importance of mental health protection:
As compared with others surveyed, Hong Kongers considered mental health protection less important as 75% of them believed that mental health insurance (covering depression, anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia, etc.) was “rather important” or “very important”, while the figures for respondents in Macau and the Mainland stood at 87% and 90% respectively.
Plan for future healthcare protection needs early for oneself and family
Kelvin Yu, Chief Product Officer of FWD Hong Kong & Macau, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic in the past few years has highlighted the importance of physical and mental wellness. Medical and critical illness insurance will not only provide individuals with a reserve that caters for their future healthcare needs, but also help them ease their psychological burden associated with unexpected future medical spendings, allowing them to worry less and enjoy a healthier life.”
The survey revealed that Hong Kongers are the most passive among other regions in terms of healthcare protection planning with less coverage and spendings on health insurance. Their awareness of mental health protection was also found to be lower than respondents in Macau and other GBA cities.
Yu added: “The survey provides a timely update of healthcare protection and concerns among Hongkongers. This enables us to plan for further enhancements of our healthcare protection and related promotional strategies to support customers. FWD has recently incorporated mental health into its medical protection scope, which is a first-in-Hong Kong initiative (note 2). Through providing accessible mental health protection, we hope to support individuals to plan for the holistic well-being for self and family, as well as to open up conversations about mental health issues.”
In November 2022, FWD launched a mental health-focused medical protection plan (note 3), which includes preliminary diagnosis, referral, out-patient counselling, hospitalisation treatment and post-hospitalisation care, as well as tailor-made family support.
Note 1: Market research company Kantar Hong Kong Limited was engaged to conduct the survey in which a total of 2,410 adults from Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong Province (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing) were polled. This survey was conducted through online survey, except for street interviews in Macau.
Note 2: Per a comparison made by FWD on 30 September 2022 among the medical insurance plans of key insurers available in Hong Kong, FWD is the first insurance company in Hong Kong to launch Out-Patient Psychiatrist Consultation/ Clinical Psychologist Consultation Benefit, Daily Hospital Income Benefit, Post Hospitalisation Out-Patient Psychiatrist Consultation/ Clinical Psychologist Consultation Benefit, Retreat Benefit and Monthly Income Support Benefit (optional benefit).
Note 3: The mentioned protection plan, “Mind Strength Protection Plan”, is underwritten by FWD Life Insurance Company (Bermuda) Limited (incorporated in Bermuda with limited liability). The above information is for reference only and does not contain the full terms and conditions, key product risks and full list of exclusions of the policy. For the details of benefits and key product risks, please refer to the product brochure downloadable at https://www.fwd.com.hk/-/media/documents/product/medical/fwd-mind-strength-en-18oct-update.pdf?rev=c58038e0494e43cd9a2f7fb5da7dcedb; and for exact terms and conditions and the full list of exclusions, please refer to the policy provisions of the plan.
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