There is broad support for the concept and policy objectives of the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme, which is considered a positive step towards redressing the balance of the public-private healthcare sectors.
Releasing the consultation report on the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme today, the Food & Health Bureau said the Government will refine the proposals and implement the scheme through a non-legislative framework.
The Government has proposed that insurers selling and effecting individual hospital insurance be required to comply with a set of minimum requirements to enhance the quality of, and promote the transparency and certainty of, insurance protection.
Most of the minimum requirements have been supported, which includes guaranteed renewal, no 'lifetime benefit limit', coverage of hospitalisation and prescribed ambulatory procedures, coverage of prescribed advanced diagnostic imaging tests and non-surgical cancer treatments, budget certainty, standardised policy terms and conditions, premium transparency, minimum benefit limits, cost-sharing restrictions and coverage of pre-existing conditions.
Some respondents noted the proposals of guaranteed acceptance with premium loading cap and portable insurance policy will have to be underpinned by a High Risk Pool to be established with injection of public funding to enable high-risk individuals to purchase private hospital insurance.
The concept of using public money to help people purchase private hospital insurance and the financial sustainability of the proposed High Risk Pool was questioned.
Given the public's diverse views on the proposals, the bureau said they will be dealt with at a later stage.
It said it will issue and update a set of practice guidelines, based on the proposed minimum requirements, in consultation with stakeholders.
The Insurance Authority will be invited to issue a guidance note to provide guidance on various aspects of underwriting individual hospital insurance business.
A Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme Office will be formed to certify scheme-compliant products, which will be eligible for tax deduction.
The bureau will finalise the practice guidelines and tax deduction arrangement next year.
The Government conducted a public consultation on the scheme from December 15, 2014, to April 16, 2015.
Six-hundred written submissions, comprising 478 from individuals and 122 from organisations, were received.
Click here for the consultation report.