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Hong Kong Medical Insurance Impasse Resolved

Posted on Apr 23, 2010 by Sergio Ulloa ()  | Tags: Medical Insurance Scheme

An offer made by the Insurance Companies to partially cover pre-existent conditions brings closer to an end its previous stalemate with the Hong Kong Government. This is perceived in general as a positive development towards the implementation of the proposed voluntary medical insurance scheme. Many international health insurance policies currently on the market have their moratorium, or waiting period, established at 2 years from the initial purchase of a medical insurance plan. The proposal calls for a "waiting period" of three years before claim benefits are given to people with pre-existent conditions. Previously, the insurance sector was calling for a five-year wait. A group representing the interests of patients fears that a three-year waiting period might be unattractive to potential participants of the scheme. Coverage of people with conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease had health officials and representatives of the Federation of Insurers deadlocked during their several past meetings. The government position is that people with pre-existent conditions must be allowed to join the scheme, with the insurance sector opposing to doing it on the grounds that the costs would be driven up. It is envisioned that people with pre-existing conditions would not be covered during the first year, followed by 50 percent coverage during the second year, 75 percent during the third year and full coverage on the fourth year onwards. People staying with the scheme are expected to opt for private services over public hospitals, even though they will have limited coverage during the first three years. The proposal also includes key elements such as a lump sum package for certain treatments or procedures, lower premiums for young people and those over 65 years old, and a no-claim bonus for participants that stay healthy. The initial target of the government is to enrol half a million Hong Kong people into the medical insurance scheme with the aim of encouraging the use of private health services and help relieve the overloaded public health sector. The government will next schedule meetings with the medical community and study operations in other countries before accepting the offer made by the insurers. A public consultation would be expected to be launched towards the end of this year, once the draft of the scheme is formulated. More on this topic: Bringing perspective on what is mentioned above, the article on Healthcare Finance Reform in Hong Kong makes reference to previous milestones and precedents.
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