Utilization of Primary Health Services in Hong Kong: Inequality, Risk, and Public-Private Interaction

Utilization of Primary Health Services in Hong Kong: Inequality, Risk, and Public-Private Interaction

Raymond K. H. Chan (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong) and Kang Hu (Southwestern University of Finance and Economics, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6339-8.ch062
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Abstract

This chapter analyzes the issue of primary health care utilization in Hong Kong and introduces the case of Hong Kong where a special division between public and private sectors has developed in the field of primary health services. The chapter argues that in the foreseeable future, it is likely that the division of health care between the public and private sector will be maintained. In recent years, more and more individuals and families have purchased private health insurance so as to gain more options. The idea of universal health insurance was rejected by the public in recent consultations; the current alternative is government-regulated private insurance. Although private primary health services will continue as usual in the near future, public primary health services should be maintained or even expanded. Given the costliness of private services (especially specialist services), it is recommended that more resources should be invested in corresponding public health services.
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Health Status In Hong Kong

In terms of health indicators, Hong Kong has attained a level comparable to other advanced economies and recorded consistent improvement in the past few decades. In 2012, life expectancies were 80.7 and 86.9 for men and women, respectively, compared to 67.8 and 75.3 in 1971. Infant mortality and maternal mortality rates were 1.5 and 2.2, respectively, in 2012, compared to 18.4 and 14.2 in 1971. As Table 1 illustrates, there have been very favourable developments in recent years (Census and Statistics Department, 2012b).

Table 1.
Health indicators, 1971–2012
197119761981198619911996200120062012
Infant mortality rate18.414.39.77.76.54.02.71.81.5
Maternal mortality rate14.218.217.992.765.683.092.031.532.2
Crude death rate5.05.14.84.75.05.05.05.56.1
Life expectancy
  Male67.869.672.374.175.276.778.479.480.7
  Female75.376.278.579.480.782.784.685.586.9

Source: Census and Statistics Department, 2012a.

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