Hospital Authority Board endorses Fees and Charges Review Report

The following is issued on behalf of the Hospital Authority:

     The Hospital Authority (HA) Board today (December 15) discussed and endorsed the Fees and Charges Review Report (the Report) and the proposed recommendations. The Report and the proposed recommendations will shortly be submitted to the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) for consideration. In the next few months the HA will engage the community to collect their views on the Report, including Legislative Council members, District Council members and patient groups, which will be passed on to the FHB for reference.
     The HA spokesperson said that under the prevailing fee review mechanism, the fees and charges will be reviewed regularly, covering Eligible Persons (EP), Non-eligible Persons (NEP) and private services. Fees and charges for NEP and private services were last reviewed in April 2013. According to the latest review results, riding on the current principle of cost recovery for NEP services, the magnitude of increase in NEP fees would range from $60 to $1,650, whilst the magnitude of increase in private services fees will continuously take reference from cost and market prices.
     The spokesperson also pointed out that fees and charges for EP services have not been adjusted since the year 2003, whilst the service cost has increased considerably. In reviewing the fees and charges for EP services, the factor of co-payment and cost sharing would be taken into account, as people should be responsible for their own health, in particular those who could afford to pay more when using public medical services.
     The spokesperson said, "Factors which have also been considered in the review include affordability, encouraging appropriate use of services and making the mode of charging easy-to-understand as well as comprehend. The HA would make resources prioritisation based on medical needs and the financial situation of people. A waiver system for patients with financial difficulties would also be set up.

     "The Report also recommends adjusting the fees and charges for EP services. On Accident and Emergency (A&E) services, the objective of adjusting the fees aims to encourage appropriate use of public hospital services by shaping health-seeking behaviour as well as resources prioritisation. The total A&E attendance at present is around 2.2 million per year, of which around 65 per cent are semi-urgent and non-urgent cases. It is expected that fee adjustment would make part of semi-urgent and non-urgent cases change to other more appropriate medical services instead of A&E services to alleviate the work pressure on A&E as well as to allow critical and urgent cases to be treated by healthcare staff more quickly and properly. 
     "According to a survey conducted by the HA earlier, the median charge of private doctors is around $300, which is much higher than the existing A&E fee of $100. It is expected that the fee gap between A&E and private doctors would be narrowed if the adjustment is implemented. Furthermore, the A&E fee is still maintained at $100 despite the fact that the cost has increased from $570 to $1,230 since 2003, and the Report proposes to adjust the fee to $220 based on the cost increase."
     The Report also proposes to maintain the fee for Community Nursing Service at $80 in order to encourage more people who have recovered to discharge themselves. For other EP services, the magnitude of fee increase ranges from $7 to $70. Patients receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance are not affected as their medical fees would be waived under the prevailing mechanism.

Ends/Thursday, December 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 20:10