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Part III of the Hong Kong Healthcare Series: Show me the Prices! Increasing visibility in hospital fees could relieve pressure on public health services | Harbour Times

The Hong Kong government thinks that greater visibility on pricing could make people more comfortable with private hospital services and is taking the initiative to tackle this issue. A bill that could be passed later this year could lead to significant changes in the provision of health care.

Making pricing transparent

“We rolled out (in October 2016) a pilot programme to enhance price transparency for private hospitals,” says Ms Kimmy Man, an officer at the Food and Health Bureau. “The pilot programme covers three price transparency measures, namely the provision of budget estimates, publication of fee schedules and publication of historical bill size statistics.”

Hong Kong’s private hospitals agreed to start providing bill estimates for 24 common surgical procedures while the Bureau has launched a website for the public to have easy access to historical bill sizes for specific treatments and procedures provided by participating hospitals.

However, the budget estimates and bill size statistics serve only as a reference and not the final prices patients will be paying.

“It is very difficult to quote prices because there is no way to know what care the patients need, such as how long they will have to stay in the hospital or what medication is needed. The only way is to estimate the cost by taking reference from the medial history of previous patients,” says Dr Ho Chung-ping, president of the Hong Kong Medical Association.

More could be done

Healthcare insurer Bupa says that while the pilot programme will generate useful information for the sector to generate more standardised and comparable pricing data, more is needed.

“There remain inconsistencies in how this pricing data is published to the consumer and patient. There is also high price variation for inpatient and outpatient procedures,” Bupa says.

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Part III of the Hong Kong Healthcare Series: Show me the Prices! Increasing visibility in hospital fees could relieve pressure on public health services – Harbour Times.

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