a Three-Tier Safety Net should be provided for the needy should
the Hong Kong Government decides to charge for A& E Service.
It is our opinion that the maximum fee for the Accident and
Emergency Service shall not exceed $77 with a stipulation of
granting a half-fee waiver to the elderly people. Moreover,
the major criteria in setting the fee level shall base on the
affordability of the people rather than to cover its cost .
to our recent survey on the fee charging issue canvassing opinions
from 649 elderly people aged 60 or above and 94 parents, whose
children are users of services for special needs children, 52.2%
of the respondents objects while 45.9% agree. Among the old
people, 54.4% of them disagree yet 43.6% are in favor. Nonetheless,
it is noted that the older the age of the respondents, the higher
the percentage of objection. On the contrary, 62% of the parents
interviewed agree, and only 37% of them disagree.
primary reason for those who agree to enforce a fee on such
service is based on the assumption that the action will help
minimize abuses from users. Other reasons include the benefits
will go to those who truly need it as a result of the compulsory
fee and the fundamental purpose behind the service will be attained.
who object, their main concern is for the people, who cannot
afford to pay, will be deprived of such service when they may
be in urgent need of it. Besides, they also believe the tax
revenue has already paid for the A&E service.
If the government
does opt for the fee requirement proposal on A&E Service,
according to our survey, the median of the amount suggested
by the parents is $77.5; while that among the old people is
lower, at the level of $40. For all 743 respondents, the average
of the maximum amount proposed is $51.78, and the median is
$44. According to the above findings, our concern is that if
the government should set the fee level at around $100, 93.5%
of the elderly people and 89.8% of the parents would not be
able to afford it.
recommendation would be for the government to consider setting
up a Three-Tier Safety Net for the needy. The first tier covers
those who are on social security and are from single-parent
families. The second tier provides a safety net for elderly
people aged 60 or above. As that, this proviso should not be
a demeaning gesture but an act to honor the elders who had contributed
to the society for the greater part of their lives. In other
words, it is a kind of "social filial piety" rather
than a "charity" for them. The third tier protects
those in need yet covered by the first two tiers. To avoid any
abuse of the service, the government is recommended to conduct
random checks for cases abusing the resources; and if and when
a fraud is found, a stern penalty can then be imposed on the
it is our recommendation for the government to provide a Three-Tier
Safety Net for the needy. In addition, we suggest three criteria
be considered before the fee is determined, namely 'accessibility',
'affordability', and 'active safety net'.