May 19, 2022
HONG KONG – The government is studying the enhancement of the use of elderly healthcare vouchers, including specifying a certain amount of vouchers for designated primary healthcare use, Hong Kong’s health chief said on Wednesday.
Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee made the remarks when responding to queries by lawmaker Ngan Man-yu at the Legislative Council.
The vouchers must only be used for the elderly person and cannot be transferred to or shared with someone else.
Sophia Chan, HK’s secretary for food and health
As of end-April, more than 1.45 million elderly people had made use of the vouchers, accounting for about 97 percent of the eligible elderly population, according to Chan.
Furthermore, more than 10,800 healthcare service providers have participated in the scheme, enabling the elderly to use the vouchers at nearly 30,000 service locations.
The estimated expenditure for the scheme in this financial year is HK$4.37 billion.
The government is currently studying enhancing the scheme, including specifying a certain amount of vouchers for designated primary healthcare use, such as health risk assessment, chronic disease assessment and management, Chan said.
When asked whether the government has considered extending the age range of voucher recipients to include younger people or even all adult, Chan said the public healthcare system provides a safety net for society so that no members of the public will be denied necessary healthcare services due to lack of means.
She added that introducing vouchers for other age groups mirroring the elderly voucher scheme may render the overall mode of subsidization overly fragmented or complicated, and may easily result in abuse. That will hinder the efficient use of valuable resources in a targeted manner, she stressed.
She also noted that in order to prevent the scheme from being abused, it all along does not allow vouchers to be used solely for purchasing medications, or for purchasing or renting medical products, including gerontechnology products. They should also not be used for in-patient services or day surgery procedures.
“The vouchers must only be used for the elderly person and cannot be transferred to or shared with someone else,” she stressed, adding that the government has no plan to change these arrangements.