The government is preparing to add a seventh option for health-care financing in an attempt to win over critics. Among the ideas its advisers are set to discuss is having the government, rather than private companies, serve as primary insurer for a proposed mandatory medical insurance scheme. 'The government can contract out the policies to private operators. There will be a better control on the inflation of premiums,' said a senior source close to the discussions. Since insurance companies would not need to spend as much money on advertising and marketing the scheme - costs they pass on in the premiums they charge - the price of insurance would be lower. The proposal would have another benefit, the source said. 'Right now, some policyholders have problems with their [private medical insurance] claims. The situation could be improved if the government takes the responsibility.' Also being discussed is the idea that the government would provide seed money for each individual's medical insurance account, and subsidise premiums. The Food and Health Bureau released a consultation document in March that listed six financing options for health care. Among them is a proposal for a 'personal health-care reserve' scheme that would require the working population to save 3 per cent to 5 per cent of their salaries a month and use part of the money to buy medical insurance, which would be mandatory. The rest of the money would go into a medical savings account. Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said in his policy address last week that the government would launch the second stage of public consultation on the reform proposals in the first half of next year. The government wants to narrow down discussion to 'one to two' concrete proposals. The government-appointed Health and Medical Development Advisory Committee will start a new round of discussions soon. The source said that in order to make the mandatory saving and insurance scheme more acceptable to the public, the government should inject some seed money into individual accounts. 'The amount can be HK$10,000 or HK$20,000 per account. It will be up to public debate.' The source said the HK$50 billion the government had earmarked to kick-start the reforms could be used to provide this - and a subsidy for insurance premiums. The source outlined how the subsidies might work. 'For example, contributors would be required to pay only 10 per cent of their total premium in the first year, then 20 per cent in the second year and so on. A phasing-in process could help Hong Kong people build up confidence in a new system.' There has been opposition to the government's original proposal that contributors be allowed to use their medical savings only after the age of 65. The source said more flexibility should be offered. The consultation document issued in March said that if a personal health-care reserve scheme were introduced in 2011 and applied to the 1.7 million members of the working population earning HK$10,000 or more a month, it could provide an extra HK$6 billion a year for health care, equal to 10 per cent of the government's annual health budget. The source believes the global financial crisis will not affect the reforms.