Major VHIS misconceptions among Hong Kongers, new research finds

The Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS) was launched in early April this year but according to the latest research, while awareness of the scheme was very high, many Hongkongers had misconceptions surrounding it. These misconceptions range from the actual amount counted as a VHIS tax deduction while some misunderstood VHIS coverage regarding known pre-existing conditions.

Online insurance comparison platform, imSure, recently commissioned the Consumer Search Group to engage approximately 1,000 Hong Kong residents aged between 18 and 64 to undertake online questionnaires. This was in order to gauge public awareness of VHIS, as well as to understand consumers’ previous experiences and habits while purchasing insurance products.

The survey found that 95% of the respondents were aware of VHIS, while 60% had considered purchasing VHIS in the next 12 months, and among 48% of them considered tax reductions attractive. However, 81% of respondents had a misunderstanding of the tax deductions available up to HK$8,000 per person annually.

In fact, the actual deduction amount is based on people’s tax rate, which may only range from a few hundred to more than one thousand dollars per person.

While the insurance plan covers unknown pre-existing conditions at the time of purchasing insurance, the study revealed that 73% of the respondents had misconceptions that VHIS covered pre-existing medical conditions that are already known at the time of purchase.

“The VHIS scheme is still in its initial stages. Although the government has set the basic requirements of the standard plan, the survey results reflected that the public may not fully comprehend the features and details of the plan,” said Wing Ko, head of products of imSure.

Ko suggested consumers who are planning to purchase or transfer their insurance plans should make sure they have a thorough understanding of the plans, compare different plans of various providers, and seek professional advice, in order to make the right purchase decision.  

The survey also showed that 62% of the respondents would compare insurance products online before purchasing. In addition, 49% and 47% of the respondents preferred to buy insurance via insurance agents and online one-stop platforms respectively. 64% of them intended to purchase insurance through online one-stop platforms in the next 12 months.

The three benefits most valued by consumers interested in online medical insurance were:

  1. Ease of purchase (68%)
  2. Competitive premiums (49%)
  3. Convenient claim processes (41%).

Kelvin Luk, co-founder of imSure, explained, “With the development of insurtech, consumers can enjoy a more comprehensive and convenient insurance purchasing experience. Members of the industry can utilise such efficient platform to simplify insurance comparison and buying experience for their customers, as well as to increase the transparency of product information, thereby matching the consumers’ independent lifestyles and needs nowadays.”

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