Over 80% of Hong Kong people consider participating
Near 40% of respondents underestimate the medical expenses 
AXA Hong Kong expands healthcare plan coverage to meet market needs
The Hong Kong public health care system is at the brink of saturation, coupled with the serious issue of an aging population, health and medical care are now among one of the most important concerns for the people of Hong Kong. As the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (“VHIS”) is going to be launched soon, AXA Hong Kong commissioned research firm Edelman Intelligence to conduct an online survey of 1,000 Hong Kong people aged 18 or above in January this year to learn about their views on the existing health insurance schemes and on VHIS.
According to the survey data, over eighty percent (82%) of respondents consider participating in VHIS while 27% of them show their intention as ‘extremely high and very likely’. Respondents indicate that individual benefits such as a tax deduction (42%) and reduced premium (42%) are comparatively more attractive. According to government information, the maximum premium limit for tax deductions per year is calculated on a per-insurer basis, with HKD8,000 being the maximum tax reduction per annum. In the case of lower income families, nearly forty percent (37%) of respondents said that current medical insurance is expensive, and nearly eighty percent (78%) will consider purchasing VHIS.
Apart from tax deduction, around half of the respondents (53%) welcomed the "no limit on lifetime cumulative claim amount" the most, followed by coverage extension to unknown pre-existing medical condition (48%). Furthermore, 21% of the respondents expressed they had been rejected insurance in the past as they had pre-existing condition. Results show that the public expects health insurance to cover a wider range of protection.
Dr. Alexander Chiu, Medical Director, Health and Employee Benefits of AXA Hong Kong and Macau, said: “From the government's recent announcement on VHIS and this survey, it fully reflects that the public has a high demand for expanding protection on ‘unknown pre-existing medical condition’ and ‘existing chronic illness’. AXA Hong Kong began to make innovative changes in our underwriting last year to expand the scope of protection to the three most common chronic diseases. AXA Hong Kong will also continue to explore the possibility of widening the range of coverage in its medical insurance products in response to market needs, so that they will benefit more clients as a whole.”
Underestimating medical expenses of public hospital | Aged-30-or-under agree VHIS can ease pressure on healthcare system
The survey found that there is a serious imbalance in the public and private health care system, with 67% of the people of Hong Kong accustomed to using both public and private medical services. Shorter waiting time (71%) and better medical service (49%) are the major reasons opting for private medical service while public hospital service are preferred because of lower cost (60%) and no surprise of additional expenses at the end of treatment (40%). However, a number of respondents underestimated the medical expenses of public hospital, especially the self-financed items.
Heart disease and cancer are among the most commonly known killer diseases in Hong Kong. The survey revealed 37% and 23% of customers underestimate the medical expense incurred when treating heart disease and cancer respectively. Furthermore, one out of five respondents, in average, said they had no idea of the cost of medical expenses, in particular that of self-financed items. If people choose public hospital services because of lower medical expenditure but underestimate the cost for self-financed items, it will not only increase the public health care system burden and costs, but the patients will not be able to budget effectively for their living and finances.
In the survey, 85% of the aged-30-or-under agreed that VHIS could help alleviate long-term health care system problems through enhancing community awareness of medical insurance, reducing the financial burden of patients and diverting medical pressure away from public health system in the long run.
Face-to-face consultation raising customers confidence when buying health insurance products | Insurance company’s role is key
There are different medical insurance purchase channels in the market, how would the decision be made? The survey reveals that trust and face-to-face consultation with insurance agents are the primary considerations when buying insurance products. Nearly half (45%) of the interviewees will buy health insurance products through an insurance company agent, especially the customers in the age range 41-50 (51%). The younger generation, on the other hand, tends to be more diverse in its choice of channels: The survey shows that 32% will choose to buy from an insurance company’s website, 32% will buy from an online insurance comparison portal, and 30% from an insurance company’s customer service hotline.
In order to care for the needs of customers of all age ranges, AXA Hong Kong will also be expanding its sales channels for its health insurance products, making consultation and buying of the products via multiple channels such as agents, websites and hotlines more available. Customers could enjoy after-sale service with timely medical treatment. Besides, AXA Hong Kong has already submitted the applications for VHIS. With the leading position in medical insurance market and the first-in-market signature network, AXA Hong Kong is committed to offer more medical insurance options and information to Hong Kong people.
 In this survey, respondents estimated that medical expenses for heart disease treatment in public hospitals were underestimated (37%), correct (19%), overestimated (26%), and unknown (18%).
 AXA Hong Kong commissioned a research company Edelman Intelligence to conduct an online survey of 1,000 people aged 18 or over January 2019.
 All respondents indicated that their intention to participate in VHIS is extremely high and very likely (27%), somewhat likely (55%), and may or may not be possible (18%).
 Food and Health Bureau Voluntary Health Insurance Tax Deduction Leaflet: https://www.vhis.gov.hk/doc/en/information_centre/e_tax.pdf
 For lower-income families (Indicating a monthly household income of HKD 15,000-20,000), the intention to participate VHIS is extremely likely (3%), very likely (20%), somewhat likely (55%), and may not (18%), completely impossible (4%).
In May 2018, AXA Hong Kong launched the new concept of BetterMe by AXA and revolutionized the underwriting standards for the three major urban diseases of type 2 diabetes, asthma and anemia:https://www.axa.com.hk/en/AXA-Hong-Kong-introduces-new-insurance-initiative-BetterMe-by-AXA
 Centre of Health Protection "Most mortality from 2001-2017": https://www.chp.gov.hk/tc/statistics/data/10/27/117.html
 In this survey, respondents estimated that the cancer treatment in public hospitals was underestimated (23%), correct (14%), overestimated (21%), unknown (20%); estimates of heart disease treatment were underestimated (37%), correct (19%), overestimated (26%), unknown (18%).
 Definition of age-30-or-under as the respondents who were 18-30 years old in January 2019. It is highly probable that the voluntary medical insurance can alleviate the long-term medical problems (6%), very likely (32%), and somewhat likely (47%), may or may not be (12%), not at all likely(3%).