Voluntary health scheme proposed

VOLUNTARY health insurance is being proposed: for a premium of HK$3,600, policy holders can be treated at private hospitals, have tests and non-surgical cancer treatment, with no cost sharing.

A three-month consultation was launched on Monday on the proposed scheme. It ends on 16 March.

Policy holders will be eligible for an average HK$450 tax deduction. An estimated 570,000 taxpayers and 360,000 dependants will be eligible for the deduction. The younger the group, the less they pay every year. For example, those aged under 15 will need to pay HK$1,250 annually while the over-70s have to pay HK$9,950. Workers aged 20-29 will pay HK$2,200 every year.

The standard plan will cover room and board, doctor’s visits and prescribed diagnostic tests. “The voluntary health insurance scheme is not a total solution to the problems of our healthcare system, but one of the turning knobs to adjust the balance of the public and private healthcare sectors,” Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man (高永文) said.

The standard plan would include guaranteed renewals and coverage of pre-existing conditions as part of 12 basic requirements that insurance companies have to abide by. These include accessibility to and continuity of coverage, quality of protection, enhanced transparency and certainty.

Ko estimated that the total cost to the government for funding the operation of the high-risk pool from 2016 to 2040 will be about HK$4.3 billion.

(The Standard, 16 December 2014)