Hong Kong Health Insurance has revealed a trend amongst Hong Kong doctors over-prescribing expensive and unnecessary surgeries in the private health sector.
Online PR News – 25-September-2012 – Hong Kong – Hong Kong Health Insurance (HKHI) has revealed a trend amongst Hong Kong doctors over-prescribing expensive and unnecessary surgeries in the private health sector in Hong Kong.
After discussion with Hong Kong healthcare professionals, it can be confirmed that procedures including Caesarean births, meniscal tear surgeries, arthroscopies, spinal surgeries and hysterectomies are carried out without solid medical justification.
“If insurance providers have to pay out more to cover increasing levels of expensive and unnecessary procedures, general premium rates will likely reflect this and increase.”
Procedures such as these are expensive, often painful and not always necessary depending on patients' circumstances. Despite this, surgeries investigated by HKHI seem to have been recommended by doctors over non-surgical alternatives in an aim to generate a higher income.
This trend is reflected in the rate of Caesarean births and even though surgery requires a longer recovery period, a longer stay in hospital and presents more risks than a normal vaginal delivery; the rate of C-section births in Hong Kong is twice that of the UK’s, Australia’s and the United States. Furthermore, when the costs of caesarean births are compared to those of regular vaginal deliveries, the difference in price can reach USD $10,000; such a difference could very well be a doctor's incentive to push for caesarean births.
In Hong Kong, private doctors contract themselves out to hospitals, and can increase their rates depending on the level care a patient is receiving. What’s more, many of the surgeries mentioned are performed to treat conditions where there are non-surgical options available; yet rates for procedures appear to be high, suggesting that expensive surgeries are regularly carried out for the sake of revenue rather than the patient.
Private medical care in Hong Kong is expensive, and actually ranks as the second most expensive in the world, so comprehensive insurance coverage is a must. However, if insurance providers have to pay out more to cover increasing levels of expensive and unnecessary procedures, general premium rates will likely reflect this and increase.
HKHI is of the opinion that this will impact both local and international insurance plan premiums. As the majority of Hong Kong’s patients with comprehensive medical insurance will typically seek care in the private medical sector, awareness needs to be raised concerning this phenomenon.