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Health woes cloud retirement prospects for women

Sunday, Mar 6, 2016,12:36 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Mumbai | As chronic diseases are becoming more prevalent in old age, healthcare in later life has become one of the major concerns among working women, says a report. Women are living longer than ever before. However, chronic diseases are more prevalent in old age, making healthcare in later life one of the top concerns among working women, according to HSBC’s ‘The Future of Retirement Healthy New Beginnings’ report.

The report revealed that, in India 33 per cent of working women are concerned about the impact of poor health on healthcare expenses in retirement compared to 32 per cent of working men in the country. The survey was conducted among more than 18,000 people in 17 markets worldwide, including in India. It said, around 32 per cent of working women in the country worry that poor health will affect their mobility against 30 per cent of working men in India.

While 31 per cent working women worry poor health will affect their ability to take care of themselves, the report revealed. It is not surprising that women are concerned about their health in later life. Women are expected to live to around 73 years old, five years longer than men, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Keeping healthy and making sure their retirement funds can cover healthcare expenses in retirement are top challenges for women. However, many remain unprepared, HSBC India Head of Retail Banking and Wealth Management S Ramakrishnan said. The report further revealed that a very high number of working age women in India (44 per cent) are unable to predict how much they are likely to spend on healthcare in retirement than working age men in India (38 per cent).

The problem is more in the AsiaPacific region where 59 per cent of working-age women are unable to predict how much they are likely to spend on healthcare in retirement compared to 50 per cent of working age men. In India, it found that, the number of women (51 per cent) who rate their personal health as good for their age is lower compared to the number of working age men (55 per cent). This number falls drastically in the Asia-Pacific region, with 30 per cent of working age women rating their health as good for their age compared to 35 per cent of working age men.

A large number of working women and men said being too busy with work commitments and lack of free or leisure time prevented them from living a healthier lifestyle. While over 26 per cent cited affordability as a barrier, it said. While more women are being educated, entering the work force and earning income, many remain financially vulnerable as they attend to multiple responsibilities.

It is important for them to find a way to save for the future as early as possible. As personal circumstances and needs differ and will change through life stages, women should regularly assess whether the financial plans they set for themselves can still meet future needs, Ramakrishnan added.