News releases | Sun Life Hong Kong

March 25, 2019

Sun Life Financial Survey Reveals High Demand for Private Healthcare in Hong Kong, Promoting Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (“VHIS”) Expected to Strengthen Medical Protection

[Hong Kong, March 20, 2019] Sun Life Hong Kong Limited (“Sun Life”) today announced its latest survey on health insurance protection in Hong Kong. In the survey, only around 30% of respondents agreed that the quality of healthcare services provided by public hospitals are better than private hospitals. The result reflects the general belief among citizens that the private sector offers better healthcare in Hong Kong.

Fifty-nine per cent of respondents stated that they had health insurance protection, and in general, the younger generations have a more positive attitude toward health insurance. The survey also showed that there are some common misperceptions pertaining to health insurance. Among respondents who haven’t purchased health insurance, 24% said they either don’t know or don’t trust health insurance, or believe that they don’t need insurance because they are healthy. Thirty-one per cent of respondents who purchased health insurance didn’t know the insurance coverage limit for large-scale surgeries.

 Belinda Au, General Manager, Distribution and Marketing, Sun Life Hong Kong Limited, said, “At Sun Life, we believe that the launch of VHIS will help Hong Kong people improve their health protection. By promoting VHIS, people will have a better understanding of the scheme, which will lead to a wider discussion in society and encourage people to rethink their medical needs. The survey also revealed that many Hong Kong people lack the understanding of and have misconceptions towards health insurance. Insurance providers should work together to educate and inform, so people understand their medical needs and avoid risks.”

 

VHIS is a good starting point for promoting health insurance

Sun Life commissioned the Centre for Social Policy Studies to conduct a survey called, “The Future of Health Insurance”, to understand Hong Kong citizens’ attitudes towards health insurance. More than 1,000 people were interviewed via telephone between January 11 and January 28, 2019. The results show that Hong Kong people generally believe private hospitals have better healthcare services than public hospitals. Only 33% of respondents agreed that the quality of services, in terms of doctors, medical equipment and programs, is better in public hospitals than private hospitals. However, 92% said that private hospitals charge too much for care. From a user’s point of view, this implies that in the short run, health insurance is important for covering medical expenses for acquiring better health services in the private sector. VHIS will launch soon, and Sun Life believes the scheme will be a move in the right direction, and encourage people to evaluate their medical and insurance needs.

The survey revealed that 41% of people do not have any health insurance coverage -- including insurance purchased by employers, families, or on their own. Among those without health insurance, 44% said they could not afford health insurance on their income. However, even for families with household incomes of HK$ 25,000 to HK$ 50,000 or HK$ 50,000 and above, 40% and 26% respectively also said they could not afford health insurance.

Even if people have health insurance, the protection may not be enough. Among respondents with health insurance, only 15% expect their health insurance to be able to fully cover the medical expenses of surgeries or health services in private hospitals. 55% say their insurance can cover less than 80% of their medical costs, and 21% believe less than 50% of their expenses can be covered by insurance.

Belinda Au said: “VHIS provides an additional health insurance option in the market. As VHIS has many advantages, such as tax reduction, high transparency and policy renewal guarantee, it will be a good starting point for people to consider purchasing health insurance. We encourage citizens take this opportunity to fully evaluate healthcare needs of themselves and their families and choose the most appropriate scheme to maximize the benefits.”

 

The younger generation is positive towards health insurance

Among respondents who have purchased health insurance, 44% pay less than HK$ 6,000 in insurance premiums each year. Among respondents aged between 18 and 29, 27% pay over HK$ 12,000 in insurance premiums each year. The rate is even higher than those aged between 30 and 59 (21%).

 According to the survey, 46% of all respondents agreed that people should purchase health insurance before 25 years old. This percentage is even higher among respondents aged between 18 and 29 (50%).

Dr. Chung Kim-wah, Centre Director, Centre for Social Policy Studies and Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said: “Medical and healthcare services in Hong Kong run along a dual-track model. Both the private and public sectors work together to provide health services to citizens. However, due to increasing pressure on the public sector in recent years, the Hong Kong government is encouraging people who have financial means to use private healthcare services and purchase insurance. According to the survey, more needs to be done to change the mindsets of citizens in Hong Kong in order to achieve that outcome.”

Belinda Au added: “The launch of VHIS will help encourage citizens to better understand health insurance products. We recommend that when people learn and consider purchasing health insurance, they should take into account insurance limits, medical inflation and critical illness coverage. They can leverage VHIS and other insurance options to form a plan that is most suitable for the needs of them and their families.”

Belinda Au, General Manager, Distribution and Marketing, Sun Life Hong Kong Limited (Left) and Dr Chung Kim-wah, Centre Director, Centre for Social Policy Studies and Assistant Professor, Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Right) reveals high demand for private healthcare in Hong Kong.

 

About Sun Life Financial 

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2018, Sun Life Financial had total assets under management of $951 billion. For more information please visit www.sunlife.com. 

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.