• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 8:27am
NewsHong Kong

HK$4.3b health insurance plan to help patients with long-term illnesses qualify for private care

Thousands of patients to qualify for HK$7,200 government subsidy towards health insurance in scheme to ease burden on public services

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 5:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 5:40am

Health bosses are planning a HK$4.3 billion scheme to revol-utionise the care of patients with long-term illnesses.

It is proposed that they will receive an annual government subsidy of HK$7,200 so they can buy medical insurance and use private care services, the South China Morning Post has learned.

The move is designed to ease the burden on the public health system, and the Food and Health Bureau estimates 69,800 people with chronic illnesses will qualify by 2016, according to a source.

People with long-term illnesses are currently deemed high-risk and are unable to sign up for mainstream insurance.

But new regulations for the industry mean insurers will be compelled to accept them.

It is thought that after the subsidy, long-term patients will have to pay about HK$15,000 a year for a standard insurance package - about triple the cost for people with no underlying illness.

Patients' Rights Association spokesman Tim Pang Hung-cheong said HK$15,000 may be too high, especially for the retired. But the lawmaker for the insurance sector, Chan Kin-por, said the offer would still be attractive to chronically ill people.

"Many have to use the public services now because they cannot afford private care without an insurance plan," he said.

Under the proposal, all insurance products will have to meet minimum requirements. The products will have to guarantee that patients will be accepted and that their schemes will be renewed. They will also have to cover pre-existing conditions. The bureau plans to set up a HK$4.3 billion pool to cover the costs of insurers who take on high-risk patients. The source said that of this figure, HK$2 billion would cover administrative costs.

The government believed the expenditure of HK$7,200 a year was justified as the cost to the authorities of operating a public hospital bed is currently HK$4,680 a day, while the cost to residents using public hospital facilities is just HK$100 a day.

"These patients are likely to stay not just one to two days, but weeks in hospitals once they are admitted," the source said.

The government estimated the number of high-risk individuals receiving the subsidy would drop to 10,900 by 2040.

Meanwhile, the Food and Health Bureau expects the price of insurance policies to rise by up to 10 per cent as a result of the changes to the market.

It means an insurance plan will cost about HK$3,600 a year for people aged below 30 and HK$5,000 for those aged 40 to 50.

Chan said the estimated cost of HK$5,000 a year for a 40 to 50-year-old was optimistic and the actual cost would far exceed this.

He also said the proposal to standardise insurance packages would violate the free market and limit consumer choice.

A public consultation will be launched early in the new year.


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This article is now closed to comments

The number of people who need health care and the cost of that care will not go down. All this scheme does is force cost onto (low or zero income) individuals PLUS the administration costs and profit margin for insurance companies. The end result will be people without proper care demanding Government support. No one wins except for insurance companies.
Sticks Evans
2 Billion to administer 4b? Someone's got their hand in the cookie jar......
Sticks Evans
Some questions the public should bring up while the government offers up their fix:
-How much does it cost on average to cover an elderly person in the private hospital sector for
1)Long term disability or terminal illness?
2)How much in the public sector for the same conditions?
3)break it down by disease and organ site for us. We are educated.
-Why are the people of Hong Kong asked to purchase health insurance when you have a large(90%) public system that is already getting an infusion of 50 Billion HKD over the coming years?
-Can't the Hospital Authority manage itself to give more care in a timely manner? They have a large budget and have many administrators who are paid quite well to do their job? Why is the public asked now to pay for additional coverage that the hospital authority should be covering now?
-Why do the medical societies and allied health care associations make it almost impossible for foreign talent to come and work in Hong Kong. HK. H.A. according to Web Rankings is #57 for quality so why can't we recruit from the top 56?
WORLD ****www.****hospitals.webometric
NYU Langone Medical Center New York
Cleveland Clinic Cleveland Ohio
Taipei Veterans General Hospital
St Jude Children's Research Hospital
Vanderbilt Medical Center
Johns Hopkins Medicine
University of Maryland Medical Center
University of Rochester Medical Center
University of Nebraska Medical Center
M D Anderson Cancer Center
Mahidol University
And so on
$7200 per year is nothing when it comes to the cost of long term healthcare. What is the point?
Obamacare in HK?
"The move is designed to ease the burden on the public health system," The move is designed to ease the taxpayers' money into private hands. Put that money and more into an overhaul of the current public health and hospital system.


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