The controversial voluntary health insurance scheme has won the general backing of the public, the government says after receiving about 500 submissions on proposed reforms in the latest round of public consultation, which ended yesterday. The Food and Health Bureau said last night: 'Generally speaking, the community shares the government's vision of maintaining the public health care system as a safety net while reforming the private ... market.' Without giving details, the bureau cited a government poll in which more than six in 10 respondents backed the health protection scheme. It also claimed 'general support' to reform the private health insurance market. The government hopes to ease pressure on the public medical system by drawing more people to private services. It expects about 500,000 people to be covered by the scheme, under which, according to initial ideas, insurers have to guarantee policy renewal and cannot exclude those with pre-existing health conditions. There are fears it is an excuse to reduce the government's commitment to medical services, though a bureau spokesman said the government would 'only increase, but not reduce' its commitment to public health care. Insurance-sector legislator Chan Kin-por noted the government wanted to cap insurers' total sum of profits, commission and administration costs at up to 10 per cent of the premiums. 'Many companies ... say they are not interested in joining if this is the case. There is growing hesitation ... We want the government to give us more details based on facts and figures.' Tim Pang Hung-cheong of the Patients' Rights Association said the scheme failed to tell how patients could benefit, such as via shorter waiting times or more choices of essential drugs. 'People do not know what they are buying,' Pang said. Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk said the reform would enhance the long-term sustainability of the health care system.