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Friday, Jul 19, 2024

'Expand subsidized mainland health-care pilot scheme'

'Expand subsidized mainland health-care pilot scheme'

A planned pilot scheme providing subsidized healthcare for citizens at Hong Kong University's Shenzhen hospital should be expanded to cover emergency and in-patient services and other hospitals in Guangdong, the SAR's biggest pro-Beijing labor union says.
From May 10, eligible Hongkongers living in the Greater Bay Area can get 2,000 yuan (HK$2,280) subsidies for consultation and treatment at the University of Hong Kong-Shenzhen Hospital.

But Federation of Trade Unions' vice-chairwoman Tsang Chi-man said it is not enough.

"The subsidy comes with a cap at 2,000 yuan, but most of the times seniors are paying more than this amount for follow-up consultations and body checks at the HKU Shenzhen hospital," she said yesterday.

"Seniors easily use up the subsidy, while it cannot be used together with the Elderly Health Care Voucher.

"So with borders already reopened, many elderly citizens will come back to Hong Kong hospitals."

Tsang suggests the pilot scheme covers clinics in Guangdong.

She also called for health authorities to discuss with mainland counterparts about allowing Hongkongers living in the Greater Bay Area to purchase mainland medical insurance with health care vouchers.

Patients rights advocate from the Society for Community Organization, Tim Pang Hung-cheong, said 2,000 yuan subsidy should be able to cover three to four follow-up consultations at the HKU Shenzhen Hospital.

But he expressed concern if costs exceed 2,000 yuan.

He said Hongkongers consulting public hospitals in the SAR need not worry about cost as they are cheap.

He suggested authorities upgrade the subsidy and echoed Tsang's call to extend the scheme to more institutions.

The planned pilot scheme would be a de facto extension of an existing special support scheme for Hongkongers in the Greater Bay Area unable to return to the SAR for consultations during Covid to attend the HKU Shenzhen hospital's outpatient clinic.

But a 2,000-yuan subsidy would not cover services at the accident and emergency department and in-patient services.
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