Asia adapts to the COVID-19 norm, but health and financial concerns persist
Survey of more than 8,000 people in Asia finds that nearly half think COVID-19 will last another year or more
Mental health, economic recovery and medical costs are among the top concerns cited in the region
Two-thirds of people in Asia have savings that only last a year or less, should they lose their job
Appetite to buy insurance remains high, with more exercise and use of health apps
HONG KONG, January 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly half of people living in Asia have accepted that COVID-19 is here to stay for another year or more and have changed their health, digital and financial habits to match the new normal, amid continued concerns about their income and general well-being, according to a new study from Manulife.
More than one in three (35%) respondents to Manulife’s third Asia Care survey say they think the pandemic will last at least another year, with an additional 14% believing it will never end. Across the region, 44% say their income has dropped due to COVID-19, and about two-thirds (64%) have savings that will last less than a year if they lose their income. However, as worries about the economy and the longevity of the pandemic persist, the public has learned to adapt and take control of their overall health and finances, especially in the face of Omicron and others. variants.
“Unsurprisingly, people across Asia are fatigued from more than two years of living through a pandemic, and many are unprepared for how long COVID-19 will last,” said Anil Wadhwani, President and CEO, Manulife Asia. “Our survey results reveal that there have been profound changes in people’s lives behavior, lifestyles and broader physical, mental and financial habits since the last year.”
Mental health issues on the rise
The survey results reveal that mental health problems are more prevalent this year than last, with more than two-thirds of respondents having experienced symptoms of mental health problems in the past six months, including sleep, inability to concentrate, excessive worry and mood swings. . Depression ranks fourth among health issues across all markets (25%), with anxiety (18%) and burnout (14%) also included. In addition to COVID-19, the main health issues worrying residents of Asia include cancer (41%), heart disease (33%), stroke (29%) and diabetes (22%).
A third of respondents also note that their main concern about COVID-19 is that the local economy will take a long time to recover (33%). Other concerns include deteriorating mental health (18%), high medical costs (17%) and lack of insurance to protect themselves and their families (15%).
The need for better understanding and awareness of some of the issues related to COVID-19 was one of the most interesting findings of the survey. It should be noted that some of the symptoms of mental health issues overlap with those of Long COVID or the long-term effects of the coronavirus. Familiarity with Long COVID is surprisingly low at 35% across Asia. However, interest is high, with 94% wanting to learn more and find insurance solutions to protect them.
Low household savings, despite better savings habits
The financial implications of the pandemic continue to reverberate across the region, exposing disparities in the savings patterns and long-term wealth planning of people across the region. While two in five respondents (43%) in Asia say they have saved more since the start of the pandemic, two-thirds (64%) say they have savings that can only sustain them for a year or less, if they lose their job.
The main reason for this is an overall limit on the amount of money people can actually save. Nearly half (44%) of respondents say they have seen their monthly income drop due to COVID-19. Interestingly, about one in five people (18%) living in Asia say they have started their own business in addition to their full-time or part-time job.
“The growing concerns about physical, mental and financial health are understandable given the pressures people have been under to protect their health, family and finances since the start of the pandemic,” said Julie Nestor, Head of Marketing and Experience Design, Manulife Asia. “It is now more important than ever for us to help alleviate these concerns, for example, with simple and affordable insurance products that can go a long way in laying the foundation for resilience and security.”
Appetite for insurance remains high, with more exercise and use of health apps
Interest in buying new and additional insurance remains high, with 71% of respondents saying they plan to buy an insurance product this year. A variety of products are in demand, with the most popular insurance products being life (28%) and health (28%), followed by hospitalization and critical illness (each at 26%). In Asia, 66% consider retirement planning important since the pandemic, which is reflected in the fact that 19% of respondents are interested in buying retirement products in the next 12 months.
The survey found that the top barriers to buying insurance are affordability (39%) and finding products that are too complicated to understand (37%). Ideally, people are looking for simple insurance products that can be purchased quickly online (64%), especially among consumers in emerging markets.
Mobile apps for monitoring and tracking health are popular, with almost nine in 10 (89%) saying they use or are willing to use health and wellness apps. In the region, two in five people (40%) also say they are exercising more since the start of the pandemic. More than half (52%) of respondents from Asia prefer to exercise outdoors, with walking (57%), jogging (50%) and cycling (27%) being among the three most common physical activities. Interestingly, a majority identified the benefits of regular exercise as a way to boost immunity (67%) and improve mental health (64%).
“What this survey ultimately shows is that we are all in this together,” Wadhwani added. “While the people of Asia have pragmatically adapted by staying healthy and secure, we can do more to proactively help them live better every day with simpler health and retirement solutions, easier access to digital health, like telemedicine, and meaningful rewards to motivate healthier lifestyles with our in-house behavioral insurance platform, ManulifeMOVE. »
About the Manulife Asia Care Survey
This research undertaken by Manulife takes an in-depth look at the concerns, priorities and aspirations of people living across Asia in the midst of COVID-19. Two previous surveys were conducted in November 2020 and May 2020. This latest version was produced in November 2021 via self-completed online questionnaires in eight markets across Asia, including mainland China, hong kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. A total of 8,276 people, aged 25 to 60, were interviewed. Respondents included insurance owners and those who did not own insurance but intended to purchase it.
Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international provider of financial services that helps people make decisions easier and live better lives. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we provide financial advice and insurance, operating as Manulife through Canada, Asia, and Europe, and mainly as John Hancock in United States. Through Manulife Investment Management, the global brand for our global wealth and asset management business, we serve individuals, institutions and pension plan members around the world. At the end of 2020, we had over 37,000 employees, over 118,000 agents and thousands of channel partners, serving over 30 million customers. From September 30, 2021, we have had 1.4 trillion Canadian dollars (US$1.1 trillion) in assets under management and administration, and over the past 12 months we have achieved 31.6 billion Canadian dollars in payments to our customers.
Our main operations are in Asia and Canada, and United States, where we have been serving our customers for over 155 years. We trade as “MFC” on the Toronto, New York, and Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in hong kong. Not all offers are available in all jurisdictions. For more information, visit manulife.com.
 Asia refers to the eight markets covered by the Manulife Asia Care Survey. They are continental China, hong kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.
 This version of the Manulife Asia Care Survey was conducted through self-completed online questionnaires in eight markets, namely Mainland China, hong kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. A total of 8,276 people, aged 25 to 60, were interviewed in November 2021. They included homeowners with insurance and those who did not have insurance but intended to purchase it. Two previous surveys were conducted in November 2020 and May 2020.
 Among the respondents, those of Vietnam (70%), Philippines (55%) and continental China (49%) said they have saved more since COVID-19, above the regional average (43%). Malaysia (43%), Indonesia (42%), Singapore (41%), hong kong (27%) and Japan (19%) are less than or equal to the regional average.
 Mainland China (24%), Japan (29%) and hong kong (33%) are particularly resilient with fewer respondents reporting having experienced a drop in income. Among those who started their own business, Indonesia (32%), Vietnam (26%) and The Philippines (25%) are well above the regional average (18%).
SOURCE Manulife Asia