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Asia Consumers’ Healthcare Inflation Worries Undermine Financial Well-being, Manulife Survey Shows

  • Asia Care Survey shows consumers not confident of achieving desired level of overall well-being
  • Rising healthcare costs their main concern, demonstrating need for effective protection solutions
  • People who are single have low levels of financial literacy and poorer overall well-being than married couples
June 6, 2024

Hong Kong – Physical well-being is central to both financial and mental well-being and is most important to consumers across Asia as they look ahead to the next 10 years and to retirement, according to new research by Manulife. Yet rising healthcare costs are a major concern, one that erodes financial well-being while fuelling anxiety about insufficient savings and reduced incomes in the coming years.

Manulife’s new Asia Care Survey 2024 drew on responses from 8,400 consumers across Asia[1]. It includes the launch of Manulife’s MyFuture Readiness Index, which measures how consumers view their current and future physical, mental, and financial well-being. On a scale of 1 to 100, the index shows their desired readiness level to be 86, but the expected level to be 72, pointing to a lack of confidence in achieving their desired level of future overall well-being. 

Against this backdrop, the findings show that consumers in Asia consider their physical well-being most important (39%), compared to financial well-being (32%) and mental well-being (29%). Good health is fundamental to overall well-being. It’s a viewpoint mirrored across all eight Asian markets covered in the survey; it’s one that calls on insurers to prioritise innovation in their health and wellness offerings to meet customer needs.

Financial well-being of married couples with children (71%) is greater than that of people who are single (57%). It is a pattern that is evident in all the Asian markets covered in the survey and across all age bands. At the same time, the findings suggest that financial literacy on investment products among those who are single (47%) is lower than for those who are married (70%).  Financial planners could be a helpful resource for people who are single to lean more into, as only 39% of them have a financial planner to help with their savings, compared to 65% of those who are married.

“Findings of this year’s Asia Care Survey show that as people across Asia are expected to live longer, they want a healthy retirement, but are worried about the rising future healthcare cost as a factor undermining their overall well-being,” said Phil Witherington, President and Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Asia. "As a leading pan-Asian insurer, we are intensifying our efforts to develop innovative health and wellness solutions to meet our customers’ increasing needs for protection to support their overall financial, physical and mental well-being.” 

Three quarters (75%) of the survey respondents said rising healthcare costs are their main financial concern – more than overall inflation (74%).  The survey shows that over the past 12 months consumer perceptions of healthcare cost inflation regionwide averaged 23%, more than twice the actual rate.[2] During the past year, consumers said they felt the highest rises were in the cost of medication prescriptions (52%), preventive healthcare (37%), outpatient care (36%) and hospitalisation (35%).


Reliance on cash savings in retirement a risk

The importance of good health is reflected in the respondents’ financial goals. Saving for a rainy day (39%) and financial freedom in retirement (32%) rank as top priorities, but having funds to cover healthcare needs (30%) follows closely behind.

The findings also show that people in Asia rely heavily on cash savings or bank deposits to achieve their financial goals (68%), far more than investment products (39%) which is the second most common means to fulfilling their financial aspirations.  Consumers in the Philippines (71%) are the most reliant on cash savings, with those in Hong Kong (63%) the least. With a fast-ageing population and rising medical costs in Asia, it should be reminded that cash goes down in value over time, especially when inflation is high.  Putting cash to work with a long-term investment or retirement plan could be a better approach to achieving one’s financial goals.


Plenty of scope for greater protection

Amid their concerns about their physical well-being and rising medical costs, there remains potential for increased health insurance take-up among the respondents. Of those surveyed, 18% said they have coverage for critical illness, well below those with accident (32%), inpatient (32%) and outpatient (26%) insurance. Heart disease (35%), cancer (34%), diabetes (32%) and stroke (31%) are their main illness worries. 

“It’s no secret that Asia’s population is ageing rapidly. By 2050, one in four people in Asia will be over 65 years old[3]. It stands to reason that elderly care and medical costs will rise faster than inflation as health systems try to cope,” said Witherington. “An effective way to deal with rising medical costs lies in health protection tailored to specific needs and budgets. We see gaps between levels of protection and levels of health concern. Seeking financial advice is a good way to close that gap.”

Overall, four fifths (80%) have insurance – in particular, personal (74%) and life (39%) – but it’s notable that people who are single have fewer savings products, less insurance coverage and use fewer investment products as those who are married.

There is a widespread expectation among respondents that it will be necessary to top up retirement and pension benefits from employers to boost their financial well-being. Overall, three quarters (76%) foresee a need to do this, with it being more pronounced in Indonesia and Vietnam (both 85%), and mainland China (81%).  


About the Manulife Asia Care Survey 2024

In its fifth year, the latest annual Manulife Asia Care Survey was conducted in January and February 2024 via online self-completed questionnaires in eight markets. A total of 8,400 people, evenly split between men and women, aged 25 to 60 years old were surveyed: mainland China (1,052), Hong Kong (1,052), Indonesia (1,063), Japan (1,000), Malaysia (1,038), Philippines (1,050), Singapore (1,038) and Vietnam (1,107).  Each respondent either owns insurance or intends to buy insurance.


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 2023, we had more than 38,000 employees, over 98,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving over 35 million customers. We trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges, and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong. Not all offerings are available in all jurisdictions. For additional information, please visit


Media Contact

Carl Wong
Head of External Communications, Asia



Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, evenly split between men and women