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SFH on Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme

     Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, after attending a radio programme this morning (December 20):

Reporter: There have been concerns that the premiums that will be charged under the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme are quite high and that they can increase substantially in the future. What can be done about that?

Secretary for Food and Health: There were indeed suggestions that the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme might attract more high risk patients to join, thereby increasing the pressure on an escalation of insurance premiums. Although it might be a trend for more high risk patients or patients with relatively high risk to join the scheme, we do not expect the risk of further escalation of insurance premiums to be very excessive. In Hong Kong, we have a very special healthcare system - the so called dual track healthcare system - in which the public system is a safety net for all people irrespective of one's financial ability. Therefore, I would think for many patients, although they might have insurance coverage, they will still select to use private hospitals under elective situation and might fall back on to the public hospital system under very severe or catastrophic situation.

Reporter: Some people with private medical insurance are considering whether they should switch, but they are also questioning whether they can be sustained in the long run because if it is not, they won't be able to switch back to the private one.

Secretary for Food and Health: As I have explained earlier, I do not expect that will be the case because we have a big safety net in the public hospital system. People will select whatever sector which they see suitable for them under their circumstances. Most people, I believe, will choose to use private hospitals under elective situation, and thereby containing the so called excessive risk of escalation of insurance premiums. As for people who elect to shift from the existing insurance plan to the new voluntary health insurance one, I think they would still have to consider their own circumstances because the existing insurance plan that they would be able to get from the current market would be very different from the future product. Regarding the attractiveness of the voluntary health insurance requirements, there will be additional coverage of non-hospital based services which might not be covered by the existing insurance plans, for example, advanced imaging tests, day-based procedures such as endoscopy examination as well as some outside hospital cancer treatment. These might not be covered by the current hospital benefit plans.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Saturday, December 20, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:12


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