ELDERLY Singaporeans are financially unprepared for critical illnesses in the future, even though they are coping with existing health conditions now, a survey has found.
The AIA Health Matters Survey 2014, conducted in March 2014 by Nielsen Singapore, collected responses from 508 adults aged between 40 and 70 years on common health conditions and concerns experienced by seniors in Singapore, and their financial preparedness to meet future healthcare needs.
Some 69 per cent of those polled have at least one health condition, ranging from the least common, diabetes (10 per cent), to the most common, high cholesterol (28 per cent).
The vast majority (96 per cent) of older Singaporeans with a health condition are managing it with at least one activity, and 54 per cent are engaged in at least three activities to manage their health condition.
These activities include watching their diets and avoiding unhealthy food, taking prescribed medicine, going for regular medical check-ups and exercising frequently.
Still, respondents are concerned about contracting critical illnesses. Around 63 per cent are most concerned about contracting cancer and getting a heart attack or heart disease, while 62 per cent fret most about getting a stroke.
Said Ho Lee Yen, chief marketing officer of AIA Singapore: "With rising healthcare cost and life expectancy, we want to ensure that older Singaporeans are financially prepared and adequately protected should they be affected by a critical illness. From the AIA Health Matters Survey findings, many are currently under-insured and would have to downgrade their living standards should anything happen to them."
More than a third (35 per cent) believe that they would have to lower their standard of living should they contract a critical illness in the future.
The survey revealed that some 30 per cent of respondents do not have critical illness coverage, and for those who do, almost half (46 per cent) purchased their critical illness insurance plan(s) more than a decade ago.
To make matters worse, more than half (56 per cent) of those aged 60-70 do not own a critical illness plan. People in this age bracket would either have to tap their own savings (49 per cent) or use their salary (52 per cent) to pay for healthcare expenses.
Ms Ho added: "While our government is expected to triple healthcare spending to $12 billion a year by 2020 to help Singaporeans with rising healthcare cost, it is also our joint responsibility to ensure that we are financially prepared to maintain the well-being of our family.
"Having critical illness coverage is important to ensure your hard-earned savings is not depleted in the event of critical illness, and you will not need to downgrade your living standards, postpone your retirement or burden your loved ones."