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Government announces Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme details
     The Government today (March 1) announced details of the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS), including the scope of protection required of individual indemnity hospital insurance products (hospital insurance), and the code of practice with which insurance company participating in the VHIS must comply. The details are set out in the Standard Plan Policy Template and the Code of Practice for Insurance Companies respectively.

     The VHIS seeks to enhance the protection offered to individuals under hospital insurance. By regulating VHIS products, the Goverement will be offering the public a new choice of insurance product with comprehensive coverage. Participation is voluntary.

     A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) said, "The VHIS encourages more people to use private healthcare services through hospital insurance, thereby relieving the pressure on the public healthcare system in the long run."

     Under the scheme, the participating insurance companies will offer hospital insurance plans that are certified by the FHB (Certified Plans). Such products should meet the following conditions or offer the following coverage:
  • Guaranteed renewal up to 100 years of age (without re-underwriting)
  • No "lifetime benefit limit"
  • 21-day cooling off period
  • Coverage extended to:
    • Unknown pre-existing conditions
    • Ambulatory procedures, including endoscopy
    • In-patient psychiatric treatment, etc.

     The spokesman said, "The VHIS will provide a number of standardised product features that can enhance consumer confidence in purchasing hospital insurance for using private healthcare services when in need. Besides, the lifelong renewal guarantee under the scheme can encourage the purchase of hospital insurance at a young age. It provides a benchmark of basic protection which helps promote the upgrading of benefits of existing sub-par hospital insurance products.

     "As announced in the 2018-19 Budget, to provide an incentive for the public to purchase certified plans under the VHIS, the Government will amend the law to allow tax deduction for relevant premiums paid. Premiums paid by a person for himself/herself and their dependants will be allowed for deduction. The deduction ceiling is $8,000 per insured person per year. There is no cap on the number of dependants that are eligible for tax deduction." 

     The Standard Plan Policy Template and Code of Practice for Insurance Companies have already been uploaded to the VHIS website. Insurance companies may start to develop hospital insurance plans to be certified by the FHB, pending the passage of the relevant Amendment Bill by the Legislative Council. The tax deduction arrangement will be implemented from the following year of assessment after the amendment of the law.

     Members of the public are invited to learn more about the VHIS and the related tax deduction from the the VHIS website (www.vhis.gov.hk ).
Ends/Thursday, March 1, 2018
Issued at HKT 16:40
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