New health protection scheme 'won't cover company insurance plans'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 4:48am

The new health protection scheme that will ensure Hongkongers have access to a minimum set of medical services will cover only individual and not company insurance plans, the Food and Health Bureau permanent secretary said.

In a Doctors Union forum yesterday, Richard Yuen Ming-fai said the scheme would not cover company insurance because employers might not have the incentive to pay the higher cost of their employees' plans.

Under the new scheme, which takes a minimum requirement model, insurance plans must cover at least the medical services provided by private clinics; day surgeries; crucial diagnostic services, and even chemotherapy, Yuen said earlier.

Insurers would be obliged to accept and extend all applications for individual insurances, although some plans would be subject to higher premiums.

"In group insurance, the insured amount will be paid by the employees and the beneficiaries are third parties, so the minimum requirement [model] will not cover this and we tend to not touch on it yet," Yuen said during the forum yesterday.

He added that most employees would buy their own individual insurance plans even if they already had group insurance. This was because the latter usually did not cover hospitalisation and would end once they left their jobs, he said.

But Alliance for Patients' Organisations chairman Tsang Kin-ping said the public should have more choices within the medical insurance scheme.

"People should have more freedom to choose what they want to cover," he said. "After all, the health protection scheme aims to provide more options for people so that they can choose whether to go to public or private hospitals."

According to the Federation of Insurers, the city has 1.9 million members with individual insurance plans, compared with 1.7 million with group insurance.

The new scheme aims to complement the public health-care system by providing better protection to those able and willing to pay for private health-care services.

Yuen earlier said the government would set aside up to HK$50 billion to help high-risk patients secure insurance plans.