【2018 Budget】HK government puts $796 million in elderly health care
Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his 2017/18 budget speech that the government is going to spend $796 million in elderly health care, including raising the limit of accumulated Elderly Health Care Vouchers to $5,000 from $4,000 and providing an additional $1,000 worth of vouchers to eligible elderlies.
Elderly Health Care Vouchers, which are given to citizens of 65 years old or above, can be used for services provided by medical practitioners, dentists and Chinese medicine practitioners in the non-public sector.
Chan also said the government will make an additional provision of about $63 million to provide speech therapy services for elderly service units which will benefit some 22,000 elderly persons with swallowing difficulties or speech impairment.
In the budget speech, Chan also said the government would provide an extra allowance of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance(CSSA), equal to 2 months of the standard rate, involving an expenditure of about $7 billion.
Increases allowance on elderly healthcare expenditures
There is also an increase deduction ceiling for elderly residential care expenses to $100,000. Besides allowance and loosening rules for residential care expenditure, the government also set tax policy to reduce the burden of young people who need to take care of their parents. As for the proposed tax deduction for the premium of the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme, it will reduce tax revenue by around $800 million a year.
When asked about the new policy, one of the managers, Ms Cheung from a residential care home said: “The handout is not necessarily to increase, what we care is about fair policy. The government only sponsor poor elderlies to enter a residential care home. That is unfair for those who need to pay for the fees."
The expenditure on public healthcare services will increase by 13.3 percent to $71.2 billion in 2018-19, accounting for 17.5 percent of total recurrent expenditure.
An additional recurrent funding of nearly $6 billion will be allocated to the Hospital Authority (HA) in 2018-19 to increase the number of hospital beds, operating theatre sessions, the quota for general out-patient and specialist outpatient services and the manpower required.
Plans to add up to 4,000 hospital beds
To meet the increasing demand for healthcare services, the second 10-year hospital development plan covering the study of the redevelopment of Princess Margaret Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital, construction of a new hospital at the King's Park site and expansion of North Lantau Hospital is under consideration. It is expected it will deliver 3,000 to 4,000 additional hospital beds, provide additional facilities and quota for consultation. An initial provision of $300 billion will be used to support the second 10-year hospital development.
An additional $100 million is provided by government to promote a healthy lifestyle in the community in order to reduce non-communicable disease.
《The Young Financial Post 新報人財經》
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