The impact of stress-related conditions on Singapore’s health system conservatively equates to US$2.3 billion of spend (approx. S$3.18 billion) or 18% of health expenditure according to a new report published today by Cigna and Asia Care Group.
The research study, which examined nine key markets worldwide, found that between four percent and 18.8% of health spending is attributable to stress-related illness. Of the markets covered, Singapore has the second-highest costs, at 18%, just behind Australia’s 18.8%
The findings demonstrate that stress translates as one of the largest single areas of spend facing Singapore’s health system today.
Stress-related conditions are less obvious in outpatient settings, accounting for only 12% of total outpatient service spend. This may be due to an effective system of referral which ensures that access to outpatient care is controlled via triaging and redirecting patients back to primary care where necessary.
Chronic stress is a widespread issue affecting people’s physical and mental health globally. It increases the risk of various health disorders, such as depression and anxiety, and is commonly associated with physical illnesses, such as irritable bowel syndrome or lower-back pain.
April Chang, Chief Executive Officer of Singapore for Cigna International Markets, said: “Despite experiencing signs of mental illness caused by chronic stress, many people do not seek medical help straightaway, waiting until they experience physical symptoms. This could be partly due to the fact that in some countries mental health is still considered a taboo subject, and seeking help for physical symptoms has more cultural acceptability.”
Previous studies have established the productivity losses from stress – from absenteeism to reduction in tax revenue.