The Hong Kong government will launch the territory’s first government-backed voluntary health insurance scheme this week – and officials are saying that the plan has the backing of most of the city’s major insurers.
The scheme will officially be rolled-out this week, with the government hoping that it will ease some of the burden off the territory’s strained public health system. Health Minister Sophia Chan said that the government expects a million residents to sign up in the first two years.
According to a report by the South China Morning Post, details revealed on Friday showed that the average premium for standard plans in the scheme was HK$4,000, lower than the estimate of HK$4,800 made by a consultancy report based on 2017 figures.
“We believed it might be because now we have 25 certified insurance companies,” Chan said in a press conference. “As there is competition in the free market, [companies] might lower their premiums to attract more people.”
“Insurance companies would need to take note of other companies if they hope to raise premiums,” Fong Ngain, deputy secretary for food and health, told SCMP. “This could create healthy competition. We believe rules in the free market would help.”
According to SCMP, the scheme is made up of 25 ‘standard plans,’ offering basic coverage for a maximum of HK$750 for hospital room and food costs per day, and 13 ‘flexi plans’ that provide higher benefit limits and broader benefit coverage.
And to sweeten the deal for Hong Kong residents on the fence about signing up, tax deductions of up to HK$8,000 for premiums paid for each person will also be offered.