COVID-19 Shock Leads to Increased Filipino Interest in Healthcare

COVID-19 Shock Leads to Filipinos Interested in Healthcare | Just like the writers of Economerienda, it seems like the rest of Filipinos are taking greater interest in personal finance: investments, healthcare and insurance. Re-evaluation of our ‘adulting’ life during the COVID-19 crisis has led us to start this blog in the first place.

Seeing the survey results from Manulife Asia Care Survey has re-enforced the mission in bringing business and personal life to be more available to the general public. In PH penetration rate is less than 1%, but Filipino respondents are becoming more interested in healthcare and insurance.

Get to know more about the survey insights and read on.

by @mari.trl at Twenty20

COVID-19 Shock Leads to Filipinos Positive Shift to Healthcare and Lifestyle, Manulife Survey Says

Survey Highlights:

  • Customers move to healthier living for better physical and mental well-being
  • Increase of interest in Healthcare and Insurance, aided by easy digital access

Concerns about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic among insurance customers runs deeper in the Philippines versus other Southeast Asian countries, prompting many Filipinos to adopt new habits in health, lifestyle and use of digital technology, according to a new survey conducted by Manulife.

Manulife Asia Care Survey

The Manulife Asia Care Survey, conducted in May 2020, targeted 300 insurance consumers in the Philippines. Most respondents expressed concern about the pandemic’s long-term impact on their day-to-day living and the local economy. The pessimism of Filipinos about the likelihood of COVID-19 slowing down in the next six months was second to that of Indonesians, among those across the eight markets surveyed. 58% of the respondents said they thought COVID-19 would get more serious during the second half of 2020, above the regional average of 41%.

Greater use of digital technology during the pandemic is also evident across the region, wherein the Philippines it was more pronounced. Along with the increased interest in digital was a move towards more regular management of personal finance–an extension of this is Filipino’s growing interest in insurance.

Also Read: 5 Types of Savings for Every Filipino – and Where to Keep Them

Filipinos adopt healthier lifestyles and digital services

Nearly all of Filipino respondents, all insurance policyholders, have adopted new lifestyle habits since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The majority of these new habits are geared towards healthier living and increased dependence on e-commerce, online, and digital services.

In the Philippines, 64% of the respondents are looking for more ways to be more physically healthy than prior to COVID-19, the highest percentage than all of the other segments surveyed.

Health Consciousness

Health consciousness and lifestyle choices on the rise, only 27% had adopted a focus on mental health status. Of the respondents, 33% said they have already started to monitor their health KPIs closely. During the next 18 months, this is set to grow, with 52% looking to find ways to be more physically healthy, 20% tracking their mental health, and 25% watching for health indicators more closely, e.g. blood pressure and blood sugar level.

“We support Filipinos in their heightened desire to make better lifestyle choices every day; whether on their health or finances,” said Melissa Henson, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, of Manulife Philippines. “Through this study, we are able to identify their concerns, priorities & goals so we can provide the necessary solutions to address our customers’ financial and health needs and help them live every day better.”

Active Lifestyle

This appetite for a healthier and more active lifestyle is integral, given rising healthcare costs and increased demand for local healthcare services to meet the needs of the growing middle class and longer life expectancies.

In the Philippines and across Asia, healthcare costs have increased significantly over the past 20 years, rising nearly 500% during that period, according to the World Bank. In 2017, the annual healthcare cost per capita in the Philippines is currently average at 6,500 PHP or 133 USD.[2]

Greater Focus on Personal Finance and Insurance

Along with their desire to get healthier, 46% of respondents in the Philippines said the pandemic had caused them to review and manage personal finances more carefully compared to pre-COVID. Much of this is likely done online.

There is now greater acceptance in switch to using digital services, including online chats, digital wallets and online payments (79%), using online tools for news and social (both 63%) since the start of the pandemic. Switching shopping from offline to online is quite a substantial rise at 46%.

COVID-19 has accelerated trends already in place, notably digitization in lifestyle. The acceptance and adoption of these trends provide another reason to believe that the changing habits will become permanent. In the Philippines, digitization and use of smartphones is enabling greater numbers of Filipinos to get access to financial services and online tools. The pandemic has helped us reinforce the value of digital tools and services.

The Philippines is one of the region’s most under-insured countries.

One measure of insurance penetration is gross written premiums as a percentage of per-capita GDP. In PH penetration rate is less than 1%,[3] far below the rates in markets such as SG and HK. 

It’s interesting that 77% of Filipinos intend to buy new additional insurance in the next 18 months, the most robust level among all the markets surveyed and well above the regional average of 62%. Life (33%), Health (29%) and Hospitalization (31%), accident (28%) and critical illness (27%) are the main new insurance products being considered by the Philippine consumers.

Risks in Healthcare and Hospitalization

“In the Philippines, we see people increasingly recognize the risks around critical illness. There’s a consciousness about the likelihood of unforeseen accidents. Besides being health issues, these are extremely stressful for the patient and his or her family, not least because the rising cost of healthcare & hospitalization can be a tremendous financial burden,” Henson said. “With use of digital tools now made available, we see people seeking out the best protection option for their needs.”

In terms for general health and well-being, a willingness to manage insurance via digital channels combined with newfound (or reawakened) interest in being more active means that the respondents in the Philippines can tap into insurer products that help to make an active lifestyle more rewarding in terms of being fun and engaging.

Where are you on your personal finance and lifestyle habits right now? Have you sorted out your finances and invested in healthcare or insurance? Why or why not?

(Read more: Gcash Invest Money Review)

About Manulife Philippines

The Manufacturers Life Insurance Company opened its doors for business in the Philippines in 1907. Since then, Manulife’s Philippine Branch and later The Manufacturers Life Insurance Co. (Phils.), Inc. (Manulife Philippines) has grown to become one of the leading life insurance companies in the country. Learn more about Manulife Philippines by visiting our website and following us on Facebook (, Twitter (@ManulifePH), and Instagram (@manulifeph).

Further Reading

[1] The Manulife Asia Care Survey covered eight markets in Asia: Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. A total of 2,400 insurance customers across the eight markets were surveyed, including 300 from the Philippines.

[2] World Bank:

[3] Reuters:

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