Healthcare Policy Forum’s position on healthcare reform — Press Release
- We see the most important objectives for reforming Hong Kong’s healthcare system as:
- containing the costs of care
- enhancing the quality of care
- improving access to care
- Our vision is to build a healthcare system that provides equal access to healthcare and which possesses a built-in mechanism for containing cost and ensuring quality of care.
Diagnosing the genuine ailments
- We believe that problems relating to the delivery and allocation dimensions of Hong Kong’s healthcare system are more pressing than those relating to its financing dimension.
- In delivery, the system is beset by:
- compartmentalization between different levels of care and between sectors (private and public)
- the absence of an organized primary care network
- supplier-domination and waning professionalism
- under-regulation of the private sector
- In allocation, the system is beset by:
- perverse incentives in the public sector
- In financing, the system is beset by:
- unequal access to primary care
Dispelling the myth of a financial crisis
- We have reservations about two views, namely, 1) that reforming the current financing mechanism of Hong Kong’s healthcare system should be the top priority because healthcare spending is projected to accelerate, and 2) that individual citizens should bear a greater share of their own healthcare spending through some form of private funding, such as saving accounts or private insurance.
- Given the soundness of the government’s financial position and even taking into consideration the need for an increase in spending on the public healthcare system so that access and quality can be further enhanced, we firmly believe that government’s financial resources are more than adequate to sustain the public healthcare system during the medium term without recourse to additional streams of revenue to the existing tax-based financing. Furthermore we would argue that the current tax-based system is not only viable but that it compares favourably with private financing in being a fairer system. Given the healthy prospects for the Hong Kong economy and the substantive reserves that have been accumulated, we take the view that the government could and should increase public spending on healthcare so that access and quality can be further enhanced, for example, through expanding primary healthcare and reducing the workloads of healthcare providers.
Our reform initiatives
- Given our reform objectives, we propose six reform initiatives:
- In delivery
1. Introducing a territory-wide electronic medical records system (EMRS)
2. Instituting a primary care system with primary care practitioners acting as gatekeepers
3. Establishing a research institute for clinical excellence
4. Instituting a new healthcare organizational structure
- In allocation
5. Adopting the “money follows patient” principle and the prospective payment mechanism for funding hospital and specialist care
- In financing
6. Subsidizing low income groups’ primary care visits in the private sector
- Initiatives 1, 2, 5, 6 should have priority as they can be readily accommodated within the structure of the existing healthcare system.
Healthcare Policy Forum (醫療政策論壇)
2 June 2007
- Mr George Cautherley (Convenor, Healthcare Policy Forum; Vice-Chairman, Hong Kong Democratic Foundation)
- Mr Richard Tsoi (Deputy Convenor, Healthcare Policy Forum; Convenor, Power for Democracy)
- Prof Joseph Cheng Yu-shek (Power for Democracy)
- Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung (Legislative Councillor – Social Welfare FC)
- Ms Emily Lau Wai-hing (Legislative Councillor – NT East, The Frontier)
- Mr Lee Cheuk-yan (Legislative Councillor – NT West, HK Confederation of Trade Unions)
- Mr Pang Hung-cheong (Community Organizer, Society for Community Organization)