Most of us desire a long life but longevity is only a good thing if it is accompanied by quality of life. How do you give yourself the best possible chance of having both? Good medical insurance increasingly plays a role.
Life span increasing but what about health span?
Your chances of living to 100 are increasing! The United Nations estimates that there are almost 600,000 centenarians across the globe in 2022, and that this figure will rise to an astounding 3.7 million by 2050.
While increased life span sounds great, it’s only a positive if a certain quality of life is maintained.
Health span is the length of time that an individual remains in good health and able to lead an active and fulfilling life. No one wants to spend decades of their twilight years living with pain and/or a severely compromised quality of life that brings misery rather than joy.
Unfortunately, for many, health span falls far short of life span. Here’s an insight from Rob Clarry, Investment Strategist and Associate Director at Evelyn Partners, Infinity’s investment management partner, in his article on shifting demographics:
‘Although the average man in the UK can now expect to live to almost 80, his average healthy life expectancy is only 63 years – he will spend 17 years with some form of health condition, such as high blood pressure, type II diabetes or heart disease. This puts a considerable strain on government finances, only partially compensated by lower spending on areas such as education. As more people spend a longer time in ‘not good’ health, this will create undesirable economic outcomes: people may not be able to work, for example, or may need to fund expensive and ongoing medical care themselves.’
How can we increase health span?
There is a whole wealth of information out there about maintaining health as we age. Last month a groundbreaking study offered insight into slowing the decline of mental health, while the benefits of staying physically healthy are clear.
But no matter how good our exercise regime, stress management and diet, healthcare issues will arise. The ability to access quality healthcare and swiftly obtain appropriate treatment when required is a key element to remaining healthy.
With governments around the world struggling to provide decent state-funded healthcare, medical insurance is playing an increasing role in maintaining the health span of those lucky enough to be able to pay for it.
The role of medical insurance in maintaining good health
The 2011 National Healthcare Quality Report in the US very clearly stated the link between a lack of medical insurance and poor health. It said ‘Uninsured people were less likely to get recommended care for disease prevention, such as cancer screening, dental care, counselling about diet and exercise and flu vaccination. They also were less likely to get recommended care for disease management, such as diabetes care management’.
This backed up the findings of a 2009 Harvard study that established a link between deaths and a lack of health coverage. It claimed that 45,000 deaths each year are associated with a lack of health insurance.
It seems pretty conclusive that not having insurance leads to problems accessing healthcare, later diagnosis of serious diseases, later hospitalisation and an increased likelihood of dying during a hospital stay. And although these are not new studies, the decline in government-provided healthcare over the last decade is only likely to have strengthened the link between access to private healthcare and good health.
Given all these factors, it seems like a no-brainer to take out medical insurance to give yourself the best chance of increasing your health span. While it can’t guarantee that you won’t get ill, it will give you the best possible chance of early diagnosis and treatment. This in turn increases your chance of recovery whether that’s from something relatively benign or one of the big three killers: cancer, heart disease and stroke.
There is no getting away from the fact that you are more likely to need to claim on a medical policy as you get older and premiums rise as a result. You will need to take this into consideration as part of your financial planning.
If you are an expatriate in Asia and you would like help finding the right medical insurance cover to suit your budget, Infinity works with all the major providers and our financial planners have the expertise to sift through all the possibilities and guide you in the decision-making process.
Please contact us to find out more about comprehensive health insurance in Asia.
A leading provider of expat financial services and wealth management services across Asia.