There’s no denying that Hong Kong women’s household, economic, political and social achievements are at their peaks right now. Apparently, so is their longevity. According to data from the Census and Statistics Department in 2017¹, although both sexes show a much longer life expectancy compared to 30 years ago, a female — with an 88-year life span in average — actually lives 6 years longer than male. However, such blessing is not without burden. With a prolonged women’s life expectancy comes a skyrocketing demand for gynaecological and other health services.
Data from the Department of Health² and Hospital Authority³ reveal that 30% of total deaths in 2016 were caused by cancer — the top killer disease in Hong Kong. Amongst which, breast cancer was the leading cause of death for women, followed by endometrial cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, Hong Kong's extremely overloaded healthcare system made patients to wait for a time that may possibly delayed their treatment. For instance, the median waiting time for a new case booking in gynaecology specialist clinics ranges from 62 to a staggering 133 weeks⁴ (i.e. more than 2 years) — a telltale sign that our public healthcare services are on the brink of saturation.
Sadly, the long waiting time is not the only problem here. The medical expenses in public hospitals — particularly self-financed items — don’t come cheap. Take new targeted cancer drugs for example. Since not all drugs required for cancer treatment are listed on the Hospital Authority Drug Formulary yet and thus not subsidised by the government, they could easily drain your savings in no time.
To be launched by the government in April 2019, the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (“VHIS”) hopes to fill the void of Hong Kong’s healthcare system and alleviate the pressure on public hospitals. AXA Hong Kong's VHIS Perception Survey in January 2019 found that public hospital services are preferred mainly because they are more affordable and have no additional expenses at the end of treatment. But with the help of VHIS, over 80% of Hongkongers would consider switching to the private sector. 45% of female respondents even agree that VHIS will potentially shorten the queues in public hospitals.
More Hongkongers participating in VHIS will not only help them secure a timely treatment whenever needed, it will also ease the heavy burden on the public sector, and eventually help to ease the long-overdue crisis in Hong Kong’s medical and healthcare industry. Meanwhile, insurance companies will continue to evaluate and improve their offerings, such as insurances for mothers-to-be and newborns, to provide modern women with a well-rounded medical protection.