New China 5-year plan for eldercare services

| 01 Mar 2022

China's State Council released on 22 February a plan for the development of the country's eldercare services in its 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), in the latest phase of its national strategy to cater to the needs of an ageing population.

Major indicators and resources

Efforts include strengthening the safety net for services for the elderly, wider coverage of inclusive services, building up the silver economy, and protecting the legitimate interests of the elderly.

China will intensify institutional innovation, and boost policy support and funding to empower the senior citizens to share in China's development achievements, according to the plan.

Based on the latest census data, Chinese citizens aged 60 or above made up 18.7 percent of the country's total population in 2020, 5.44 percentage points higher than in 2010.

“China's increasing elderly population is both a challenge and an opportunity,” head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Ning Jizhe said in a statement in May 2021.

Silver economy

The plan also highlights the development of the silver economy which, according to a government official, requires the country to provide "equal, attainable services and products for seniors with particular difficulties."

The country should give full play to both state and social capital in expanding the domestic market, and create systematic, integrated policies to ensure the sound and sustainable development of the silver economy, the official said.

China also plans to establish about 10 industrial parks dedicated to the silver economy and build a string of cities into models in this regard, the official said, stressing that facilities to be used for elderly care will be prioritized in the construction layout.

Elderly health protection needs

A survey conducted as a part of a study on 2021 Elderly Health Protection Needs released by Ping An Health Insurance, Pacific Life Re and Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in November 2021 found that 74.6% of the respondents cite contracting major illnesses as the biggest health risk of growing old.

The survey found that 71.5% of the respondents fear decline of physical functions and diminished ability to take care of themselves. Chronic diseases and related issues were the main concerns of 67.5%.

About 55% respondents feared a weakened immune system leading to minor illnesses, and 52% were concerned about brittle bones and accidental fractures.

Recognition of importance of old age insurance

Most of the respondents have some knowledge of commercial health insurance and expressed a positive attitude towards getting a commercial elderly health insurance cover.

Some 80% of the respondents were clear about their decision to purchase an elderly health insurance cover. Of this group:

40.1% felt that buying the coverage earlier is better

25% were of the opinion this cover should be bought in their middle age

14.7% said it is cheaper to buy insurance at a young age.

Three fourths of the respondents have purchased some form of commercial health insurance. Among these 50.5% had bought hospitalisation insurance and 44.1% had purchased a cover for specific diseases. Outpatient medical insurance found 31.1% takers while 23.2% bought lump-sum medical insurance and 10.3% acquired high-end medical insurance.