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Around two-thirds of GBA consumers want to do more to protect themselves from critical illness

– Manulife GBA Health Protection Survey

Only 1-in-8 Hongkongers say they are confident to pay for medical costs associated with cancer, heart disease and stroke 



February 27, 2023  


HONG KONG – Manulife Hong Kong has released the findings of a survey on Greater Bay Area (GBA) residents’ health protection needs, showing that consumers around the region are worried about the growing gap between ever-increasing medical costs associated with critical illnesses and how they will pay for them. The concerns have prompted many to review their planning and preparedness, with some two-thirds of GBA respondents saying they would like to do more to protect themselves from critical illness, but they don’t know where to start.

As the longest continually operating life insurer in Hong Kong, Manulife aims to understand the protection needs of GBA residents around health and wealth through consumer surveys to promote healthier and longer lives in the communities it serves.

The inaugural Manulife GBA Health Protection Survey revealed cancer as the most worrying critical illness for GBA residents. There is, however, a wide disparity in the anticipated cost of treating critical illnesses across the GBA. Taking cancer as an example, the average expected associated cost[1] in the mainland GBA cities is around CNY698,000, which translates to 51 months of the average monthly personal income of the respondents. In Hong Kong, people expect to spend as much as 35 months of their average personal income (HKD1.07 million) for treating cancer. On the other hand, Macau respondents only expect to pay around MOP468,000, or 15 months of their average personal income, for cancer medical treatment.

Despite the differences, the high estimated cost of treating serious illnesses highlights the size of the protection gap affecting consumers across the 11 cities in the GBA. Hong Kong respondents are the least confident about paying for the necessary care for serious illnesses, with just one-in-eight (12%) saying they could cover the cost, compared to almost half (47%) in Macau and (45%) across mainland GBA cities. Respondents in Hong Kong who are confident in their personal finances cite enough savings and stable job (both 50%), having personal insurance (43%), and a good budget plan (42%) as the main reasons for the confidence.


Insurance a way to close protection gap

“It is unsettling to learn that so many consumers in the GBA are worried about being unable to pay for critical illnesses expenses. The costs involved in treating critical illness can be substantial because it includes not just the treatment, but also rehabilitation and living expenses, especially in cases where the illness affects a person’s ability to work,” said Danny Lee, Chief Product Officer, Manulife Hong Kong and Macau. “With the estimated costs equating up to several years of a person’s income, our role as a leading health protection provider is to support customers by helping to alleviate financial stress and instill confidence so they can be fully focused on recovery.”

As much as two thirds of the Hong Kong respondents cited cancer (65%), followed by stroke (41%) and then heart disease (35%), as their top three health concerns. Cancer is also a main critical illness health concern in mainland GBA (42%) and Macau (27%). However, other than critical illnesses, people in Macau are worried about high blood pressure (29%) and liver disease (23%). In mainland GBA cities heart disease (27%) and high blood pressure (25%) are the second and third top health concerns respectively.

In case of a medical event, around half of people in the GBA will use emergency savings (Hong Kong: 47%; Macau 52%; Mainland GBA 52%). Interestingly, mainland GBA cities and Macau respondents tend to rely on their families, with 44% in mainland GBA and 70% in Macau expecting to receive financial support from their spouse or a family member, compared to just 28% in Hong Kong.


Growing appetite for health protection

There is a demand for critical illness protection among residents in the GBA, with respondents looking to do more to protect themselves, but they don’t know where to start. Out of the respondents, people in Macau are the most eager (71%), followed by mainland GBA cities (69%) and then Hong Kong (62%). Many also expressed interest in buying new or additional health insurance if they can afford it. People in mainland GBA cities (85%) are the most interested, followed by Macau (80%) and then Hong Kong (65%).

On average, GBA respondents own 3 to 4 insurance solutions. Around half the Hong Kong respondents said they already have critical illness insurance (53%) and hospitalization insurance (46%), while outpatient health insurance (35%) is the least health insurance product that they own. Yet, two-thirds (66%) of the Hong Kong respondents show interest in investing in new or additional health insurance if they can afford.

As part of their effort to narrow the protection gap, the majority of GBA consumers are taking part in more physical activities to stay healthy. In Hong Kong more than half (53%) said their health management action involved improving their diet, such as eating less salt and sugar. In addition, consumers in mainland GBA cities also said that maintaining good mental health (40%) is their main health goal, significantly higher than in Hong Kong (33%) and Macau (31%).

“We are happy to see a general awareness for healthy living and protection against illnesses across the GBA. As the longest continuously operating life insurer in Hong Kong, we always encourage our customers to stay active and be prepared for any eventuality, because good planning helps to protect people against not only illnesses but also financial uncertainty,” Mr Lee added.



Manulife GBA Health Protection Survey

Conducted by NielsenIQ on behalf of Manulife, the survey fieldwork took place between December 16 and 30, 2022, in all the GBA cities – Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. The sample sizes were 1,000 in Hong Kong, 300 in Macau (residents only) and 225-300 in each of the nine mainland China cities.


[1] Associated cost covers treatment, rehabilitation, and daily expenses if a person cannot work


About Manulife Hong Kong

Manulife Hong Kong has been a trusted name for 125 years. Since our operations started in Hong Kong in 1897, we have grown to become one of the top-tier providers of fi­nancial services, offering a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to over 2.4 million customers in Hong Kong and Macau. We are committed to helping make decisions easier and lives better for our customers.

Manulife Hong Kong, through Manulife International Holdings Limited, owns Manulife (International) Limited, Manulife Investment Management (Hong Kong) Limited and Manulife Provident Funds Trust Company Limited.


About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services provider, helping people make their decisions easier and lives better. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife across Canada, Asia, and Europe, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our Global Wealth and Asset Management segment, we serve individuals, institutions, and retirement plan members worldwide. At the end of 2021, we had more than 38,000 employees, over 119,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 33 million customers. We trade as 'MFC' on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under '945' in Hong Kong.

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About Christian Family Service Centre

Christian Family Service Centre (CFSC) was established in 1954. Over the years, the Agency has developed into a multi-service agency, providing services throughout the territory. CFSC has 10 core services with 2 categories, (i) “People-centred Service” includes Children and Family Services, Youth and Education Services, Elderly Care Services, Services for People with Disabilities, Mental Health Services; (ii) “Community-oriented Service” includes Active Aging Services, Opportunities and Inclusion for People with Disabilities, Medical and Health Services, Community Development Services, Environmental Protection and Green Living. For more information about CFSC, please visit


Media Contacts :

Jacqueline Kam / Sadie Lam

Manulife (International) Limited

Tel: (852) 2202 1284 / 2510 5429­ /


Vicki Chan

Christian Family Service Centre

Tel: (852) 2950 5815 / 9869 8638