Little public support for sharp rise in medical fees

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 April, 2006, 12:00am

The public opposes the Hospital Authority's controversial plans to cut the government's cost and deter abuse by dramatically raising public hospital fees this year, a poll has indicated.

A phone poll of 932 people by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong found 40 per cent oppose any fee rise for accident and emergency services.

Twenty-eight per cent said that although they would accept a rise, the authority's proposal of doubling the fee from $100 to $200 was simply too much.

Of those people, 56 per cent said they could afford a fee increase of up to 20 per cent, while nearly 40 per cent said a charge of between $121 and $150 was acceptable.

Just 29 per cent of all respondents said they would use private medical services if the Hospital Authority's proposal goes through, with nearly half of them saying their choice for treatment would depend on their condition.

The respondents were also asked about the plan to revise inpatient care fees, which would rise to $500 a day for the first three days, $300 a day for days four to 10 and $100 a day from then on. Present charges are $50 for the first day and $100 a day thereafter.

Forty-five per cent said the proposed rise was too severe and 40 per cent opposed any rise. Only 8 per cent supported the plan.

More than 60 per cent said the charge should be set at $200 a day at most, and 32 per cent said they could afford up to $300.

More than 40 per cent said the fee rise for inpatient care was the least acceptable proposal, followed by a cut in the number of special drugs offered (23 per cent) and the increase in the accident and emergency service fee (17 per cent).