Silver wave alert: Asia urged to boost health insurance for booming elderly population

Silver wave alert: Asia urged to boost health insurance for booming elderly population


Silver wave alert: Asia urged to boost health insurance for booming elderly population | Insurance Business Asia















Number of older people in Asia Pacific expected to almost double by 2050

Silver wave alert: Asia urged to boost health insurance for booming elderly population

Life & Health

By
Roxanne Libatique

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised concerns about the readiness of developing Asia and the Pacific to meet the needs of an increasing number of elderly citizens, noting significant challenges due to insufficient pension systems, healthcare deficiencies, and general lack of essential services.

These issues are detailed in a report titled “Aging Well in Asia: Asian Development Policy Report,” which was released at the ADB’s 57th Annual Meeting.

The report calls for urgent policy reforms to better support the region’s aging populations.

Needs of the aging population in Asia Pacific

Projections within the report indicated that the elderly population in Asia and the Pacific – defined as those aged 60 and older – will almost double by 2050, reaching about 1.2 billion people, or roughly one-quarter of the total population. This demographic shift will significantly increase the demand for enhanced pension schemes and healthcare services.

On a positive note, the potential increase in economic productivity from older adults, referred to as a “silver dividend,” could raise the region’s GDP by an average of 0.9%.

“Asia and the Pacific’s rapid development is a success story, but it’s also fuelling a huge demographic shift, and the pressure is rising,” said ADB chief economist Albert Park. “Governments need to prepare now if they’re going to be able to help hundreds of millions of people in the region age well. Policies should support lifetime investment in health, education, skills, and financial preparedness for retirement. Family and social ties are also important to foster healthy and productive populations of older people and maximise their contribution to society.”

Gap in health coverage for aging population

The health of older adults is concerning, with 60% not engaging in regular health screenings and 31% reporting symptoms of depression linked to illness, isolation, and economic hardship. The report highlighted that elderly women are particularly susceptible to various health conditions.

To mitigate these challenges, the report suggested several policy initiatives such as:

  • state-supported health insurance and pension schemes
  • improved health infrastructure
  • the provision of free annual health and lifestyle check-ups

It emphasised the necessity for universal healthcare coverage and the extension of labour protections to older workers in informal sectors.

Furthermore, the report advocates for policies that allow more flexibility in retirement age, promote continued health and wellness, and create suitable job opportunities for the elderly, along with ongoing opportunities for learning and skills enhancement.

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