In recent years, public hospitals in Hong Kong were extremely crowded. Despite that, the problem of non-eligible persons (e.g. Chinese residing in China) ditching hospital fees is also serious. In November 2015, a woman from China has been staying in a public hospital in Hong Kong without paying any medical fees. In March 2019, the Hospital Authority (HA) filed claims in court against that woman for recovery of arrears which amounted to $6,170,000.
Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health admitted that in year 2016/17, the uncollected amounts involving Obstetrics and Gynecology was HK$4.7 million, while the write-off in other services reached HK$45.8 million. As in March 2018, the highest amount in default is HKD4.7 million.
The Bureau also pointed out that the Hospital Authority has an established mechanism to reduce arrears in medical expense, such as charging a down payment in advance. Should such precautionary action were taken but the bill still has not been paid, the authority could also take legal action when appropriate. As in 2019, the average annual expenditure (including legal fees and other expenses) on recovery of arrears incurred by HA is around $4 million.
Uncollected Fees involving non-locals in Public Hospitals in Hong Kong by year:
Source: Apple Daily; LegCo