Most here ready for medical costs

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans feel the most prepared for the medical expenses they will incur when they retire, as compared to people in China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan.

Of 200 working adults surveyed here, 74 per cent felt they were ready to handle future health costs. The working adults were aged 40 to 59.

The figure for Hong Kong was 60 per cent, that for China was 50 per cent, Japan's was 34 per cent and South Korea's stood at 31 per cent.

Aside from medical costs, Singaporeans felt they were the most prepared for retirement in general, compared to people in the other territories.

The survey's results were revealed at a press conference yesterday. Conducted by global insurance provider Swiss Re, the survey involved 2,427 respondents across the five Asian territories between July 10 and Aug 2 last year, with 400 Singaporeans taking part.

The high level of preparedness that Singaporeans felt was likely due to the Government's compulsory medical savings plan, Medisave, said Ms Marianne Gilchrist, Swiss Re's director and head of health solutions for reinsurance client markets Asia.

The retirement age was pegged at 60 and above for the survey, which interviewed 200 Singaporean retirees.

Working adults here were found to start planning for retirement the earliest - at age 37.

Health-care costs topped the retirement expenditure of Singaporeans, forming 49 per cent of retirees' expenses. Working adults here said they expect that health care will account for 29 per cent of their expenditure when they retire.

The majority of Singaporeans cited plans to use their savings and government health- care schemes for future health expenses. However, 76 per cent of working adults and 56 per cent of retirees felt that such schemes were insufficient to cover their costs.

About 32 per cent of retirees and 3 per cent of working adults said they expect to depend on their families to pay for future medical expenses.

The difference in expectations could be due to the working adults being from the "sandwiched generation", said Mr Christopher Lee, director and head of clients market for life and health in South-east Asia.

Because such working adults recognise the burden of supporting their parents and children, they do not expect their children to support them later in life, he explained.

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