NewsExpanded Healthcare Voucher Program to Benefit Elderly Hongkongers

Expanded Healthcare Voucher Program to Benefit Elderly Hongkongers

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In a bid to extend healthcare accessibility to elderly Hong Kong residents in the Greater Bay Area, the government has announced plans to include seven additional hospitals and dental clinics in its healthcare voucher scheme. The expansion, set to commence in the third quarter of this year, aims to cater to the needs of retirees in bay area cities.

Health Secretary Lo Chung-mau revealed on Monday that the government would initiate preparatory measures, including manpower training, financial arrangements, and system coordination, to facilitate the seamless integration of the new healthcare facilities into the existing voucher program.

“We wish to cover the core of the Greater Bay Area, and ensure service points are available for the elderly along the Pearl River Delta as well,” said Lo Chung-mau. He emphasized that the expansion would encompass cities such as Dongguan, Guangzhou, the Nansha cooperation zone, Zhongshan, in addition to the existing facilities in Shenzhen.

The five newly incorporated medical institutions include two branches of the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, the Nansha cooperation zone, Zhongshan Chenxinghai Hospital, Dongguan Tungwah Hospital, and Shenzhen New Frontier United Family Hospital. Two dental centers in Shenzhen, Aikangjian Stomatological Hospital near the Lo Wu border checkpoint, and William Chu clinic near the Shenzhen Bay crossing, will also be part of the expanded scheme.

Deputy Secretary for Health Eddie Lee Lik-kong outlined the eight criteria used to select healthcare facilities, including location, service quality, operational experience, service scope, service capacity, knowledge about the elderly healthcare voucher scheme, level of charges, and strengths. Lee emphasized that the selected facilities were not permitted to increase service charges as a result of the scheme, and mainland Chinese authorities would closely monitor them.

The annual voucher, currently set at HK$2,000 per person, allows for accumulation up to HK$8,000, with any unused amount carryover to subsequent years. Eligible individuals include those aged 65 or over, holding a Hong Kong identity card or Certificate of Exemption issued by the Immigration Department.

The government’s expansion of the Elderly Health Care Voucher Pilot Scheme follows its introduction in 2009, becoming a recurrent program in 2014. The program aims to provide financial incentives for individuals to choose private medical services. In 2019, the scheme was regularized and extended to cover outpatient services at the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital.

The move aligns with Beijing’s five-year-old Greater Bay Area blueprint, intending to transform the region into a hi-tech powerhouse by 2035. The Greater Bay Area encompasses over 86 million people, including Hong Kong, Macau, and nine Guangdong cities.

As part of the ongoing efforts to enhance the scheme, the Health Bureau invited mainland authorities to recommend candidates, and the Department of Health conducted market research on facilities operated by Hong Kong medical institutions in the bay area, culminating in the selection of the additional healthcare providers.

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