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Thursday, September 29, 2016, 23:24

Private hospitals to provide surgery costs to patients


HONG KONG – All private hospitals in the city will provide patients with the cost of their surgery after their admission to hospitals to give them an idea of how much they need to pay, Hong Kong’s health chief said on Thursday.

The practice under a pilot scheme will be launched on Oct 1. It will inform patients about the surgery fees and the anesthetization for 24 common non-emergent diseases, said Ko Wing-man, secretary of food and health.

Other fees included with surgery, such as ward usage fees and medication charges, vary from case to case. Hence the hospital may not provide the exact fees to patients, Ko noted.

But he added that the Department of Health has come up with a price range of such fees after collecting data from private hospitals in the past two years. Patients may make references of price ranges and estimate how much they need to pay.

He emphasized that prices provided by private hospitals are only for patients’ reference. They will not necessarily equal the final amount they have to pay.

The pilot scheme is being carried out to enhance the transparency of private hospital charges. It has no fixed time for completion. According to Ko, the scheme will last until new laws and regulations concerning private hospital charges are passed.

He estimated that in the first half of 2017, his department will submit a draft bill regulating private hospital fees to the Legislative Council.

Meanwhile, Ko also said regular fees such as operating room usage fees and costs for nursing care will be put online. Patients can also search the web to find out more about private hospital fees.

Ko praised the practice as a giant step forward appealed to private doctors to cooperate. This is despite the fact they are required to do extra work, such as explaining fees to patients.

Despite universal public healthcare services, Hong Kong is said to have some of the highest private medical costs in the world. According to data from some international health insurance companies, the city has the second-highest average private medical costs in the world – equal with Israel - and just behind the United States.

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