Over 80% of Critical Illness patients (and their Caregivers) regret not buying more insurance coverage- Great Eastern consumer survey

| 10 Mar 2021

Infographic by Great Eastern

Great Eastern's "The Impact of Critical Illness in Singapore" survey conducted in December 2020 with over 500 Singaporeans, revealed that Singaporeans are worried about incurring long-term medical expenses and income loss.

For most Singaporeans, insurance coverage against critical illness (CI) might not come across as a pertinent consideration, especially when they’re young and in the prime of life. According to Great Eastern’s recent survey, 50% of respondents without CI protection are not worried about their lack of coverage and close to half of those who do not own appropriate insurance coverage, assume that their existing medical plans are sufficient. Further, the majority of those who have not suffered from a CI do not believe recurring CIs will happen to them.

The survey covered two groups with an even mix of :

  • CI patients and their caregivers (People who have experienced CIs or “Experiencers”) in the past three years, and,
  • those who were not CI patients nor cared for a CI patient before (People who have not experienced CIs or “Non-Experiencers”) in the past three years.

Key Findings:

  • Over 50% of Critical Illness (CI) patients and their caregivers (People who have experienced CIs or “Experiencers”) depend on insurance payouts to manage their financial expenses. Almost 1 in 3 (30%) of them incur more than S$250,000 in medical and hospitalisation bills for their entire recovery duration with nearly 2 in 5 (40%) with no income for at least 12 months
  • Almost 3 in 4 (73%) of the Experiencers are willing to pay higher premiums for more protection against various CIs or relapses in the future, and over 80% regretted not getting more coverage
  • Over 50% of the Experiencers believe that they will have multiple occurrences of CIs
  • Almost 40% of the surveyed non-CI patients and those who have not cared for a CI patient before (People who have not experienced CIs or “Non-Experiencers”) are unwilling to pay more for a new insurance plan to get higher protection

Protection Gap Exists

Singaporeans are mostly worried about hefty medical bills and loss of income as recovery can take several years.  Almost half of the Experiencers cited medical costs for prolonged treatments. More than 4 in 5 (81%) of the Non-Experiencers are worried about paying their medical bills, and nearly three-quarters of them are concerned about losing their income while being caregivers for parents or relatives who were ill.

According to LIA’s 2018 Protection Gap Study, an average Singaporean working adult has critical illness cover of just S$60,000, way below LIA’s recommendation of about S$316,000 or almost 4 times the average annual pay of S$81,663.     

Great Eastern’s survey highlighted the perception differences of the Non-Experiencers. Almost 40% of them are unwilling to pay more for a new insurance plan that gives higher protection. Not being aware of the benefits of a CI plan is also a key barrier to them getting one. 

For the non-Experiencers who own CI plans, nearly half of them think they have sufficient coverage. Close to half (45%) who have no CI plans are not worried about their lack of coverage as they assume that their existing medical plans (MediSave/MediShield/Integrated Shield plans) are sufficient.  


Importance of Getting Insured against CIs Early

According to the Singapore Cancer Society, about 39 people in Singapore are diagnosed with cancer every day, while 15 people die of cancer every day, and 1 in 4 people may develop cancer in their lifetime

Patrick Kok, Managing Director, Group Operations, said: “Being inflicted with CIs such as cancer can be very challenging and financially straining for the patient and his family. Preventive measures such as regular health screenings and having early intervention are important. We also need enough protection to be financially prepared against CIs so that we can focus on recovery and have the peace of mind if CIs strike.”

An average Singaporean born in 2017 is expected to live for 84.8 years, including 10.6 years in poor health and is only covered for around 20% of the expenses needed to tide over a CI event. Assuming the recovery period for a CI patient is five years, he still needs to provide for his daily needs during this recuperation period or until the insured person can resume work or adjust his lifestyle needs.

Forward Planning against CIs works hand in hand with other health insurance

More people are getting diagnosed with CIs as according to the National Registry of Diseases Office, there is an overall increase in the number of teenagers and young adults (age 15 to 34) diagnosed with cancer. With increasing life expectancy, it is important to start planning early for sufficient protection throughout all stages of CIs.  

Colin Chan, Managing Director, Group Marketing, Great Eastern said: “Not all CI patients have continued protection after their first diagnosis, as it depends on the type of insurance plan they own. Multiple incidences of critical illnesses can happen. Our survey showed that 80% of those who experienced CIs are actually willing to pay more for additional insurance (hospitalisation or CI)."

"Almost all who tried to buy more insurance plans later encountered difficulties and regretted not having provisioned for the additional coverage upfront. We hope to address this with a solution that offers continued coverage after a diagnosis of CI with multiple payouts. As an insurer, we want to help Singaporeans to have all-rounded protection and continued coverage for life,” he added. 


More on Great Eastern:

Great Eastern Holdings reports 23% higher total weighted new sales in FY2020, boosted by strong sales growth from agency channel

Great Eastern: KEE-ping it in the Family

Great Eastern: Changing the Game with Digital


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