One in two healthcare practitioners have said that Singaporeans will struggle to cope with the rising healthcare costs of living to 100 years old as many of them will need to manage more than one chronic disease in their twilight years.
Nearly half (49 per cent) of 200 healthcare practitioners made this statement during Prudential Singapore’s Ready for 100 study – a study which is researched and written by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The EIU surveyed over 200 general and specialist physicians, nurses, senior management and administrators from polyclinics, general hospitals, community hospitals and specialist hospitals in Singapore. It also conducted in-depth interviews with senior government officials, business executives and other experts for the Prudential-commissioned study.
According to the study, more than half of Singapore’s residents who are older than 60 develop more than one chronic disease. This means that while Singapore’s average lifespan is rising, more seniors are spending their long life in poor health.
Some 84 per cent of healthcare practitioners said that Singapore’s healthcare system must place more emphasis on disease prevention while 70 per cent said that residents need to be responsible for themselves in supporting their own healthy ageing.
Most healthcare practitioners who were surveyed, however, believed that more than half of Singaporeans aged between 25 and 45 are not proactively working to prevent common chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
The survey also found that care integration is a key component of managing multiple chronic diseases. Healthcare practitioners said that Singapore’s healthcare system lacks coordination across various care providers and is overly dependent on specialist care.
Two in five who were surveyed said that greater synergy between primary care, hospitals, long-term care and home care could reduce inefficiencies, hospitalisation time and costs.
The experts who were surveyed added that the Singapore Government’s initiatives to encourage healthy living and prepare for the ageing population must be well supported by individuals, healthcare practitioners and businesses.
Calling the growing healthcare burden on of the biggest challenges Singapore has to face, Prudential Singapore CEO Wilf Blackburn said: “As medical costs continue to rise, we must evaluate the role we can play in making healthcare more affordable and accessible. As insurers, this means changing the way we engage with customers.
“We want to go beyond covering their medical bills to coming up with innovative solutions that can help them live well for longer. Staying healthy is the best strategy to keep one’s medical expenses low in the long run.”
Prudential Singapore, which is one of the top insurance companies in the nation, asserted that the Ready for 100 research it commissioned is meant to involve all stakeholders in the joint effort to make Singapore and its residents healthier and happier.
The EIU’s Editorial Director for the Asia of Thought Leadership, Charles Ross, added that a multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder approach and long-term commitment is required to prepare for the ageing population. He said:
“While Singapore’s health system has seen great results so far with the city state having one of the longest global life expectancies, its continued success will depend on how fast it can adjust to the needs of a rapidly-ageing population with growing rates of multi-morbidity.
“The EIU research found that a multi-pronged, multi-stakeholder approach which focuses on preventative healthcare from a young age will help Singapore’s efforts to create a healthcare system which other countries dealing with similar challenges can hope to emulate.” -/TISG