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Opening remarks by SFH at press conference on public consultations on voluntary health insurance scheme and regulation of private healthcare facilities (video)
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Following are the opening remarks by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, at a press conference on public consultations on the voluntary health insurance scheme and regulation of private healthcare facilities held today (December 15):

Today, we launch the voluntary health insurance scheme (VHIS), which is a supplementary healthcare financing scheme, to be part of our measures to enhance the long-term sustainability of our healthcare system. The VHIS 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. Under our proposal, individual hospital insurance products must comply with the Minimum Requirements prescribed by the Government, including guaranteed renewal, coverage of pre-existing conditions, guaranteed acceptance, standardised policy terms and conditions, etc.

To encourage people to purchase VHIS plans, we propose to provide tax deductions for individual hospital insurance policies complying with the Minimum Requirements, including taxpayers and their dependants. The number of dependants will be capped, and we will work out the detailed arrangements after the public consultation.

By encouraging more people to use private healthcare services, the VHIS can help relieve pressure on the public system, and users of public healthcare services can benefit from shorter waiting time and enhanced service quality, thereby contributing to the long-term sustainability of our healthcare system.

Secondly, it is pertaining to the regulation of private healthcare facilities. With a view to better regulating private healthcare services amid the evolving landscape of healthcare services, the Government established the Steering Committee on Review of Regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities (Steering Committee) to conduct a thorough review on the existing regulatory regime.

Based on the recommendation of the Steering Committee, today we launch a public consultation on the Regulation of Private Healthcare Facilities, setting out the proposal on a revamped regulatory regime. Having regard to public concerns in recent years over issues such as price transparency, service quality of healthcare services, enhanced consumer rights protection, standards of facilities and sanctions, etc, we propose to revamp the regulatory framework for private healthcare facilities as set out in the public consultation document.

We consider that the new regulatory regime should cover three classes of private healthcare facilities, namely, hospitals; facilities providing high-risk medical procedures in ambulatory setting; and facilities providing medical services under the management of incorporated bodies.

We also propose to constitute 19 regulatory aspects as essential regulatory requirements of the regulatory regime for private hospitals, with suitable adaptation commensurate with the lower degree of complexity and risks of medical services provided in other private healthcare settings. The 19 regulatory aspects are grouped under five broad categories of control, namely, corporate governance, standards of facilities, clinical quality, price transparency and sanctions.

We also propose that the regulatory authority should be conferred with appropriate regulatory powers necessary to ensure proper oversight on regulated private healthcare facilities to safeguard the safety and interest of the public.

If the two policy proposals are supported by the community, we will proceed as soon as possible with legislative procedures to implement these measures.

Ends/Monday, December 15, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:40

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