Voucher scheme to be enhanced

May 18, 2022

The Government has continuously reviewed the Elderly Health Care Voucher Scheme's operation and been studying the enhancement and regulation of the use of vouchers, Secretary for Food & Health Prof Sophia Chan said today.

 

Prof Chan told legislators that as at end-April this year, over 1.45 million elderly people had made use of the vouchers, accounting for about 97% of the eligible elderly population.

 

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 $4.37 billion.

 

The Goverment is currently studying enhancing the scheme under the framework of the blueprint for the sustainable development of primary healthcare services, including specifying a certain amount of vouchers for designated primary healthcare use, such as health risk assessment, chronic disease assessment and management; requiring seniors to register their family doctors; and introducing the co-payment concept for non-designated uses.

 

Prof Chan noted the Government considers that the suggestion to introduce vouchers for other age groups mirroring the scheme may render the overall mode of subsidisation overly fragmented or complicated, and may easily result in abuse, thereby hindering the efficient use of valuable resources in a targeted manner.

 

She said the scheme has along not allowed vouchers to be used solely for purchasing medication, or for purchasing or renting medical products, including gerontechnology products. They should also not be used for in-patient services or day surgery procedures.

 

Vouchers must only be used for the elderly person and cannot be transferred to or shared with someone else.

 

The Government has no plan to change these arrangements, the health chief added.

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