More than half of Hongkongers are not entitled to medical benefits provided by employers or companies, and are not covered by medical insurance, a Census and Statistics Department survey has shown.

The department calculated that 3,510,600 Hong Kong people – or 51.3 percent – were not covered by medical insurance. 38.6 percent of these were economically active, working in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, retail, transportation, financial and social services. 24.5 percent were retired, 18.9 percent were students and 12.9 percent were home-makers.

In terms of industry, individuals in the retail, accommodation and food services sectors were the least likely to be entitled to medical benefits or covered by medical insurance, comprising 27 percent of the 1,228,800 people not medically insured in the private sector.

A Hong Kong hospital.
A Hong Kong hospital. File

Insurance sector lawmaker Chan Kin-por told Ming Pao that those who were not medically covered were mostly working in small or medium size companies with four to five employees, where employers did not arrange medical insurance for their staff. The insurance industry is also unlikely to cover restaurant workers who were more mobile and paid daily, as well as lowly paid construction workers.

The newspaper also reported that negotiations to decide the minimum requirements of a voluntary health insurance scheme between the government and the insurance sector has almost been completed. A government source told the newspaper that they hoped to announce details of this by the end of the year.

The Thematic Household Survey Report No. 58 was published by the Census and Statistics Department on Thursday. In the survey, some 10,000 households within a scientifically selected sample were successfully enumerated, constituting a response rate of 75 percent, between March and August 2014.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.