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AIA: Vietnam facing critical illness "financing gap"

Released at: 07:39, 13/10/2018

AIA: Vietnam facing critical illness "financing gap"

Photo: AIA Vietnam

AIA Healthy Living Index 2018 shows more people satisfied with their health but less likely to adopt healthy behavior.

by Khanh Chi

The AIA Group has found that people in Vietnam face a considerable “financing gap”, where savings, current levels of insurance, and government health provisions may not be enough to pay for the treatment for critical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other serious conditions.

The findings are part of the latest AIA Healthy Living Index Survey, the fourth since 2011, which highlights prevailing health trends, motivations and concerns of individuals and communities across Asia-Pacific.

In Vietnam, 57 per cent of people are concerned about the potential costs of critical illness. When asked to estimate the cost of treatment for cancer they expect they would have to bear, over half (58 per cent) estimate an amount that would have serious financial implications for them.

The concern is justified when the expected financing gap is taken into account. For cancer treatment, respondents expect an average shortfall of 41 per cent of the costs they would have to bear. Across all respondents in Vietnam, the financing gap for heart disease is 27 per cent and for diabetes 18 per cent of direct costs.

Overall, people’s satisfaction with their health and habits in Vietnam has increased slightly since the previous AIA Healthy Living Index in 2016. Some 93 per cent of respondents are satisfied with their health, up from 90 per cent in 2016.

Some 65 per cent of people in Vietnam rate themselves positively on the amount of exercise they are getting; down 15 percentage points from 2016. Only 50 per cent are satisfied with their frequency of taking holidays; down 16 percentage points from 2016.

The results are likely to reflect changing expectations about ideal healthy lifestyles and behavior as much as changing habits. Despite a rise in satisfaction levels, people are less likely to behave more healthily. On average, respondents in Vietnam claim to do 2.7 hours of exercise each week; a decrease from the 2.8 hours claimed in 2016.

Healthy habits can be hard to sustain. Some 68 per cent of those who have ever tried a diet program continue to use one now, while 63 per cent of those who have ever tried to reduce their salt intake continue to do so.

Meanwhile, technology is proving a positive force for change. Most people (77 per cent of all respondents in Vietnam) consider health and activity tracking technology to be easy to use and 75 per cent think these devices motivate positive changes in behavior. That said, almost one in three (29 per cent) who have tried such trackers have stopped using them.

“Among all Asia-Pan Pacific markets who participated in this survey, Vietnam ranks number two in overall health satisfaction, up 3 per cent compared to the findings in 2016,” said Mr. Wayne Besant, CEO of AIA Vietnam. “This is a very positive sign and very encouraging, as it shows that efforts put in to maintain healthy living habits have started to show effects.”

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