As many as 200,000 people could face a 40 per cent increase in their medical insurance premiums if a plan put forward by a government consultancy gets the go-ahead, the legislator for the insurance sector has warned.
Chan Kin-por said that the plan, if adopted, would drive more people to use public medical services as private insurance schemes become less affordable.
Speaking on TVB current affairs programme On The Record yesterday, Chan recommended the government present its consultancy report for vetting by the insurance sector before releasing it for public consultation, which is scheduled for next March or April.
At the centre of the debate is the so-called minimum-requirements approach put forward by the government consultancy. One aim of the approach is to encourage people to take out medical insurance and use private services to alleviate the burden on the public system.
Under the consultancy's plan, all hospital insurance products offered for individuals in future must meet or exceed minimum requirements, such as a guarantee of renewal, guarantee of acceptance, coverage of pre-existing conditions, and standardised policy terms and conditions.
"At present, many people opt for lower-premium products because they do not think they need broader coverage," Chan said. "The minimum-requirements approach would in effect force them to pay more for services that they might not need."
The consultancy estimates this could cost policyholders 10 per cent more than they pay currently for private schemes.
But Chan cast "serious doubt" on that figure, citing estimates by the insurance sector that the increase could be 30 to 40 per cent.
"The insurance sector would like the government consultancy to explain how it derived the figure and let us confirm it," Chan said.
The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers said most people were happy with the present system.