15 April 2008

hk's three-month health care reform 'consultation'

health care reform in hk has been on the books for a long time, with one of the first commissioned reports appearing in 1999. nearly 10 years later, the government has prepared yet another report, which is now (supposedly) under public consultation. in other words, you have three months to choose from a list of options set out in the report.

from the government's point of view, it is the financing of hk's health care that is in need of urgent reform, due to 'an aging population and rising medical costs' which are an increasing burden on the current tax funded health care system. for this reason, a substantial part of the report focuses on different financing options, all of which require additional funding. from the middle class it seems.

legislator fernando cheung notes the absurdity of the government refusing to tax capital while insisting on the necessity of taxing those with an average wage of hkd 10, 000 or more in its various financing options (such as a mandatory medical savings account like in singapore).

"one cannot but feel that true to its character as a bulwark of business, the SAR government recognizes a tax only when it is levied on profit-making; when a tax is levied on wage-earners, the government finds it appropriate to call the tax by numerous other names except admit it is a tax... the government owes society an explanation as to why it considers it appropriate to impose the entire burden on wage-earners with monthly income at $10,000 and above."

it is therefore important that issues of equity and access are discussed, and some social consensus reached on the reasons and benefits of health care reform and financing.

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