The new health insurance scheme proposed by the government offers a mix of benefits and drawbacks to young Hongkongers.
The new scheme, which may be in place by 2016 if passed by the Legislative Council, would raise insurance premiums by an average of 9 per cent to HK$3,600 per year, according to estimates by the Food and Health Bureau. To counter the rise in cost, the government also plans to offer tax breaks, which SCMP estimates will be between HK$20 and HK$400 per person each year.
Some are not happy with the plans. Secondary school teacher Lee Choi-kam said she didn't see the need for a new health insurance scheme. "The protection I have now is enough," she said. "Why do I have to bear the medical costs of others?"
But Polytechnic University professor Peter Yuen Pok-man said that no matter what the scheme, Hong Kong's youth will eventually end up paying for the growing ageing population. The government recently estimated that one in every three people in Hong Kong would be elderly by 2041.
The new government standard package will offset the financial pressure on Hong Kong's young people. The plan would require private insurers to cover applicants regardless of old age or pre-existing conditions.
To increase support for the changes, the government plans to contribute HK$4.3 billion to help pay for treatment of about 70,000 high-risk patients, including the elderly.
Health minister Dr Ko Wing-man said the benefits would be felt by everyone. "This will help to relieve pressure on the public system," he said, "and users of public health care services can benefit from shorter waiting times and enhanced service quality."