News Life and Health11 May 2018

Asia:Region's health protection gap 10 times larger than forecast

| 11 May 2018

The overall size of Asia's current health protection gap is a massive US$1.8 trillion, according to Swiss Re's soon-to-be-published health protection gap in Asia study.

A sneak peek at the forthcoming study, due to be published in July, was given to delegates at the two-day Institute and Faculty of Actuaries Conference 2018, which opened in Bangkok yesterday.

Swiss Re last produced a health protection gap in the Asia-Pacific region study in 2012 when the reinsurer predicted that the gap would hit $197 billion in 2020.

Swiss Re head of life and health products Asia, managing director Daisy Ning revealed that the latest study was the result of an extensive survey covering 16,300 respondents in 12 markets. The $1.8-trillion Asian health protection gap only covers direct medical costs and does not include other attendant costs associated with illness such as loss of earnings.

The 12 markets in question were segmented into ‘emerging Asia’ which accounted for $1.4 trillion of the protection gap and ‘developed Asia’ which accounted for the balance of $400 billion. China alone was responsible for $805 billion of the gap and India for $369 billion.

For the purposes of the study Swiss Re has defined the health protection gap in Asia as being “the stress caused to a household’s financial position arising from out of pocket medical expenses”.

The granular detail contained in the report when it is published will cover areas such as:

  • the total number of households in Asia that were unable to access healthcare in the past 12 months because of cost (38 million households),
  • the average maximum protection gap per household across 12 markets in Asia ($392),
  • the percentage of the protection gap accounted for by chronic illness (45%),
  • the proportion of households that intend to spend more on healthcare and that also plan to buy insurance in future (77%), and
  • the number of people who currently take a suboptimal level of exercise but still consider themselves healthy (32%).


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