The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers has expressed serious doubts over the effectiveness of the proposed health protection scheme (HPS) of the government in alleviating the burden of the public system.
Citing a recent industry survey conducted by the HKFI's Medical Insurance Association, the HKFI said the majority of the medical insurance policyholders actually used private medical services, contrary to the perception of "certain quarters" that policyholders rely on the public system for medical services.
Further, Hong Kong's private group and individual indemnity medical insurance plans are providing various forms of protection to more than three million people in Hong Kong, and the number of policyholders have increased by 180,000 per annum over each of the past four years, the survey said.
"With the vibrant private health insurance market offering a raft of protection to suit the different needs of policyholders, we do not see any extra value of the proposed HPS except restricting the choice of consumers," said David Alexander, chairman of HKFI's task force on health care reform.
"We have reasons to doubt the take-up rate of the proposed HPS and how it is going to shift patients to the private hospital from the public sector,” he added.
According to the HKFI, the insurance industry is deeply concerned about the lack of consumer choice under the proposed scheme, as it feels it will only restrict consumers' choice and force them to pay 10% more for medical insurance.
The insurance industry proposes that existing medical insurance products continue to be sold alongside the proposed scheme to maintain consumer choice.
"If consumer choice is duly protected, the market will grow in a healthy way, thus providing better environment for medical insurers to improve our existing products and market practice by standardizing policy terms, applying less exclusion, expanding the coverage to inpatient and/or ambulatory care, refining policy terms, enhancing transparency of premium rate and the claims process in line with consumer expectation," said Vivian Choi, chairman of HKFI's Medical Insurance Association.