Yes, Singapore should be Hong Kong’s model on funding public health care
I am writing in response to your article on an interview with Dr Edward Leong Che-hung, the former Hospital Authority chief (“Subsidise poor and charge the rich more for medical services”, July 22). The article focused on whether Hong Kong should follow Singapore’s example on public health, with means tests and targeted subsidies. As Dr Leong put it, “If you are poor, we subsidise you more; if you are rich, we subsidise you less.”
I support this model of public health care. Needless to say, it is ironic that rich and poor alike pay the same charges for public health care services, due to it being heavily subsidised. It is only the absolute poorest that get fee waivers.
If the rich have to pay more, the problem of our overburdened public health care sector, with government hospitals straining at the seams and overworked medical staff, as well as long waiting times for consultations, would probably be eased. There are those who believe that charging patients differently based on financial status goes against the principles of the sector, but if people can pay more, it would seem logical that they do so.
Hong Kong’s health care system is quite perfect, but its bills have been increasing every year. Average recurrent expenditure has risen by 7 per cent over the past decade and financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said expenditure on public health care services will be increased to HK$71.2 billion in 2018-19, a rise of more than 13 per cent. If the comparatively rich need to pay more for medical care, this will reduce the pressure on the government coffers and the funds saved can be used for other community purposes.
Therefore, public health care is definitely an area in which Hong Kong should follow Singapore’s example, to benefit both its most vulnerable citizens and its own fiscal status.
Jacky Chan, Tseung Kwan O