Insurers still not sold on HK voluntary health insurance scheme

Government and insurance sector at odds over two controversial requirements to qualify for the program

Insurers still not sold on HK voluntary health insurance scheme

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

The Hong Kong government and the insurance sector have yet to find a common ground on the proposed voluntary health insurance scheme, sources say.
The government insists that even if two controversial terms are dropped, the program will still be attractive to the public. However, private insurers disagree, saying that removing the two items would make the program no different from a regular insurance policy.
Initially, the scheme had 12 requirements, but Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said last month that two controversial terms - guaranteed acceptance and the high-risk pool - will be deleted for the first phase.
The program aims to encourage middle class citizens to switch to the private medical sector in order to reduce pressure on the public sector and government resources. Those who have health insurance policies that meet the program’s requirements can benefit from tax exemptions.
The private insurance sector has criticized the plan, saying that it may be unattractive to the public as there is still a possibility to be rejected due to pre-existing conditions.
"What makes the proposal appealing is that all people should be accepted, regardless of age or condition,” Andy Fung Chi-yuen, vice president of the Hong Kong Insurance Practitioners General Union told The Standard. “Now that these terms have been withdrawn, the scheme will just be like another new product."
The government, on the other hand, insisted that the remaining 10 conditions will make the plans more competitive than those currently in the market.
Fung acknowledged the tax exemption offer as a selling point, but he worries that the business sector might oppose it as the same offer is not available for other investment products.

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