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LCQ19: Non-eligible persons receiving public healthcare services

     Following is a question by the Ir Dr Hon Raymond Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, in the Legislative Council today (February 8):


     The public healthcare services (healthcare services) in Hong Kong are heavily subsidised by the Government, and only "Eligible Persons", i.e. holders of Hong Kong Identity Card or children under 11 years of age who are Hong Kong residents, are entitled to use healthcare services at heavily subsidised rates, whereas other users are "Non-eligible Persons" (NEPs).  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) the numbers of NEPs who received healthcare services in the past five years, with a breakdown by year and type of services received (i.e. emergency and non-emergency services);

(b) the respective total amounts of medical fees payable by NEPs and the payments in default in the past five years, with a breakdown by year; and

(c) the details and effectiveness of the actions taken by the Hospital Authority (HA) to recover the outstanding medical fees from NEPs who defaulted on payments; whether HA will take further action against those who have not yet settled the outstanding amounts, so as to ensure that there is no abuse of the healthcare services in Hong Kong?



(a) The numbers of Non-eligible Persons (NEPs) who received public healthcare services in the past five years are shown in Annex 1.

(b) The respective total amounts of medical fees payable and the payments in default by NEPs in the past five years are shown in Annex 2.

(c) The Hospital Authority (HA) has put in place a series of measures to minimise default on payment of medical fees.  The measures include requiring NEPs in public wards to pay a deposit of $33,000 upon admission (except for emergency cases).  HA will issue interim bills to the patients on a weekly basis during their hospitalisation and issue final bills upon their discharge.  Before and after patients' discharge, the hospital will also call the patients or their family members to remind them to settle the fees timely.

     Reminders will be sent to the patients if bills remain outstanding after 14 days from issuance of the bills.  An administrative charge will be imposed on outstanding fees overdue for 60 days from issuance of the bills, subject to a cap of $11,000 for each bill.  In addition, HA will suspend the provision of non-emergency medical services to NEPs with outstanding fees.

     After considering various factors, including the amount of payments in default and the chance of recovery, HA will take legal actions wherever appropriate, such as lodging a claim through the Small Claims Tribunal or the District Court.  Over the past five years, about $7.8 million of payments in default have been successfully recovered from NEPs through legal actions.

Ends/Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:55


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