Hong Kong must address people’s worries over health care costs and quality

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 January, 2016, 4:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 January, 2016, 4:02pm

Medical policies always draw attention, especially in Hong Kong, due to their importance. The waiting time in local public hospitals is always a concern, whether it be with admissions or the emergency room response time. The topic has been bought up from time to time, but not with a forward-thinking solution.

To ensure that one has access to immediate treatment, medical insurance is “mandatory” in Hong Kong. Hongkongers always have a plan B for their medical treatment – not only because of the waiting time, but also because of the costs. When one is diagnosed with an illness, especially for a long-term one, seeing both public doctors and private doctors is the norm.

As a patient, I completely understand this decision. One sees a public doctor to get basic prescriptions while desperately hoping that the queue is not really that long. If solvent, one sees a private doctor for immediate treatment or to get a second opinion. However, no one really knows if the bill would be truly covered by the insurance.

Many Hongkongers pay tax and insurance at the same time. Ironically, the quality of medical treatment is never guaranteed.

Other than time and money, now the workforce crisis in public hospitals is another alarming problem.

It is time for the government to enhance medical policies. The medical care voucher for senior citizens is a good start. However, there are a lot of areas regarding our medical policies that need to be immediately addressed.

In the short run, reducing the waiting time and embracing overseas talents are of prime importance. Attracting medical talents from all over the world to Hong Kong will benefit patients and professional training. In the long run, nurturing local talent and developing or introducing new technology is a must. Medical treatments should be up-to-date so as to protect the community. Forward-thinking planners need to stand strong and take the flak for unsavoury decisions that perhaps the media and the public do not find sweet enough.

Eva Pang, Tseung Kwan O