“What I’m most worried about is the rising medical expenses. Not only I may need to spend all of my savings, I may also need to count on my family members to save my own health,” expressed Carol Chan, a retired woman in her fifties. “I don’t want to bring any financial burden to them,” she added, during a press conference organised by Happy Retired, a social enterprise, as they published the findings of a survey conducted from December 2017 to January 2018.

Retired population foresees rapid rise in medical expenses

The survey has interviewed 340 retired—or about to retire—people aged 45 or above. Aiming to find out their concerns, the survey also zoomed into how they manage their savings, including their income, expenditure and investment portfolio.

Among the retired population, ‘medical expenses’ tops the list of all the items that they are most concerned about. ‘Parents’ health’ and “self and spouse health’ come in second and third, respectively. More worryingly, compared to other expenses (e.g. food and rent), close to half of the surveyed retired population foresees that medical expenses would experience the steepest rise in the next five years.

‘Medical expenses’ top the list of the items that the retired population is most concerned about.
‘Medical expenses’ top the list of the items that the retired population is most concerned about.

“The findings coincide with the concerns our retired members shared with us in the past. Although most of them have reserved some savings for the healthcare expenses, many of them still need to take care of their parents. They are worried that the health conditions of their parents, their spouses and themselves might worsen as time goes on, whilst concurrently, they have to confront an ever-rising medical expenses,” echoed Ryan Yeung, founder and CEO of Happy Retired.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer around 20 years ago. Fortunately, I had bought an insurance plan to partly subsidise the medical expenses,” shared Chan. “However, no one can be certain about the future. Therefore, I decided to purchase two more insurance plans at the time I retired.”

Carol Chan (first from right), a retired middle-aged woman, sharing her concerns over medical expenses.
Carol Chan (first from right), a retired middle-aged woman, sharing her concerns over medical expenses.

“It might be easier for Carol since she retired at a relatively younger age. For the older retired population, however, it might be difficult for them as they have to pay more expensive premiums,” explained Yeung. “Many of them had been relying on the protection offered by their company medical plans. Yet, once they retire, they lose the protection, and they may not be able to afford the expensive care in the private sector.”

Health Care Voucher for middle-aged group

Currently, elderly people aged 65 or above in Hong Kong are eligible to participate in the Elderly Health Care Voucher (EHV). To address the retired population’s concerns over rising medical expenses, Yeung suggested that the government to introduce another type of health care voucher specifically for people aged between 55 and 64.

“Different from EHV, which focuses more on treatment, this health care voucher for the retired population would focus more on prevention. With early detection and timely treatment, this health care voucher can alleviate the burden on public care,” elaborated Yeung. “I don’t see this as an expense – instead, an investment for the future.”

Ryan Yeung, founder and CEO of Happy Retired, urged the government to consider introducing policies to hire retired middle-aged to care for the elderly in Hong Kong.
Ryan Yeung, founder and CEO of Happy Retired, urged the government to consider introducing policies to hire retired middle-aged to care for the elderly in Hong Kong.

Yeung also urged the government to consider introducing policies to hire retired middle-aged to care for the elderly in Hong Kong. “Last week, the UK government appointed a ‘minister for loneliness’ to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost their loved ones. This issue is happening everywhere around the globe, including Hong Kong,” highlighted Yeung.

“For these elderly, they probably just need somebody to talk to, or share their thoughts and experiences with. In this case, why don’t we effectively make use of the manpower and expertise in the city?” MIMS

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