Politics

Savings insufficient to pay for major health emergencies — Manulife

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REUTERS

SOME 80% of respondents said they lack sufficient savings to pay for hospitalization during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, while more than half reported paying out of pocket for health emergencies, according to a survey conducted by Manulife Philippines.

Of the 500 participants in the survey, that proportion responded that their savings are not enough to pay for illnesses they consider most burdensome, Manulife said in a virtual conference Wednesday.

The survey was conducted in the first half, including the months in the second quarter when the lockdown was strictest due to COVID-19.

A majority or 58% considered health their top priority during these periods, with cancer, heart disease, and hypertension identified as the most worrisome diseases. COVID-19 was eighth.

The survey indicated that more than half or 54% pay for health services out of pocket.

Because of the added risk from COVID-19, Manulife said 78% of respondents have started reviewing their finances more often.

The average savings of P170,000 reported in the study was deemed too low for expensive health emergencies, Manulife said.

Some 77% of respondents said they plan to buy insurance in the next 18 months.

“We have seen more people viewing our website, making inquiries. That validates the results of the survey. We continue to watch this, listen to our customers and potential customers to put out solutions to help them during this time,” Manulife Philippines Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer Melissa Henson said.

Manulife said the discrepancy between low financial capacity and the high priority attributed to health reflects anxiety about providing for daily needs as the economy slows.

“On one hand, people have become much more aware of insurance since the onset of the pandemic,” it said adding that because of the economic slowdown, many have taken a “short-term” view.

“We realized there is a need to deliver something more affordable and accessible to Filipinos so we can help them become physically and financially healthy,” Ms. Henson said, citing the launched YRT insurance product, a one-year renewable policy with at least a P23 daily premium, and the five-year React5, with lower premiums.

Manulife has also introduced online sessions on financial literacy for teachers, students and their parents. — Kathryn Kristina T. Jose