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postgraduate thesis: High-risk insurance pool : a systematic review and assessment on efficiency and equity in healthcare

TitleHigh-risk insurance pool : a systematic review and assessment on efficiency and equity in healthcare
Authors
Issue Date2014
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Ng, M. [吳美妮]. (2014). High-risk insurance pool : a systematic review and assessment on efficiency and equity in healthcare. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5320585
AbstractTo enable high-risk individuals to have access to private health insurance, the Hong Kong government has announced the establishment of a high-risk pool reinsurance mechanism. Under the voluntary and government-regulated insurance program, “Health Protection Scheme”, the high-risk pool will accept individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or higher health risks. Critics have long expressed their concerns regarding the financial sustainability of Hong Kong’s healthcare system due to its heavy reliance on government subsidies and publicly funded services. Patients with pre-existing conditions are denied coverage by the private insurance sector, and have to rely heavily on the overburdened public healthcare system. Following the United States, the Hong Kong government suggests that a high-risk pool proposal will offer a relatively simpler approach compared to other alternatives. However, little is known about its applicability in Hong Kong or potential problems. Therefore, the objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of high-risk pool in promoting healthcare efficiency, equity, and to make recommendations for the operations in Hong Kong. A systematic literature review was conducted on the MEDLINE database to study the overseas experience of high-risk insurance pools. Of the 52 articles included in the systematic review, the majority of the studies cover the operations in the United States. Results are analysed from the following eight perspectives. For efficiency, the studied areas include (1) fiscal sustainability, (2) adverse selection, (3) risk sharing and (4) cost containment. For equity, (5) insurance premium, (6) out-of-pocket expense, (7) enrolment barrier and (8) program awareness of the high-risk pools are analysed. Results of the systematic review show the inadequacies of the high-risk pool mechanisms in all of the above studied areas. In the United States, while industry assessment and government subsidization intend to facilitate risk sharing for high-risk population, insufficient funding and the industry’s deteriorated risk sharing capabilities undermine system efficiency. In addition, adverse selection and cost containment add to the already lengthy list of problems that high-risk pools have yet to address. Limited subsidies, high out-of-pocket payments, strict eligibility rules, and insufficient program awareness remain the four major barriers to health equity for the uninsurable. While studies on the overseas healthcare system have revealed several inadequacies regarding the high-risk pool mechanism, these uncertainties have to be resolved before Hong Kong can move forward to improve its healthcare efficiency and equity. More thoughts should be given on how the risk sharing capability can be enhanced within the insurance industry. Without a clear definition or a standardized underwriting rule that clearly defines “high-risk”, the high-risk pool could become a platform to practice adverse selection and further deteriorate the already limited risk sharing among the population. For addressing the issue of cost containment, the DRG charging system and chronic disease management programs are pivotal components to be incorporated. The government should perform a concrete assessment to justify how the spending on high-risk pool can essentially promote a more equitable system in Hong Kong. By considering the impact on both private insurance market and the public healthcare system, the government should further consider how to implement a high-risk pool that can effectively improve the healthcare efficiency and equity in Hong Kong.
DegreeMaster of Public Health
SubjectHealth insurance - China - Hong Kong
Dept/ProgramPublic Health
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/206946

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.authorNg, Mei-ni-
dc.contributor.author吳美妮-
dc.date.accessioned2014-12-04T23:17:21Z-
dc.date.available2014-12-04T23:17:21Z-
dc.date.issued2014-
dc.identifier.citationNg, M. [吳美妮]. (2014). High-risk insurance pool : a systematic review and assessment on efficiency and equity in healthcare. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.5353/th_b5320585-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/206946-
dc.description.abstractTo enable high-risk individuals to have access to private health insurance, the Hong Kong government has announced the establishment of a high-risk pool reinsurance mechanism. Under the voluntary and government-regulated insurance program, “Health Protection Scheme”, the high-risk pool will accept individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or higher health risks. Critics have long expressed their concerns regarding the financial sustainability of Hong Kong’s healthcare system due to its heavy reliance on government subsidies and publicly funded services. Patients with pre-existing conditions are denied coverage by the private insurance sector, and have to rely heavily on the overburdened public healthcare system. Following the United States, the Hong Kong government suggests that a high-risk pool proposal will offer a relatively simpler approach compared to other alternatives. However, little is known about its applicability in Hong Kong or potential problems. Therefore, the objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of high-risk pool in promoting healthcare efficiency, equity, and to make recommendations for the operations in Hong Kong. A systematic literature review was conducted on the MEDLINE database to study the overseas experience of high-risk insurance pools. Of the 52 articles included in the systematic review, the majority of the studies cover the operations in the United States. Results are analysed from the following eight perspectives. For efficiency, the studied areas include (1) fiscal sustainability, (2) adverse selection, (3) risk sharing and (4) cost containment. For equity, (5) insurance premium, (6) out-of-pocket expense, (7) enrolment barrier and (8) program awareness of the high-risk pools are analysed. Results of the systematic review show the inadequacies of the high-risk pool mechanisms in all of the above studied areas. In the United States, while industry assessment and government subsidization intend to facilitate risk sharing for high-risk population, insufficient funding and the industry’s deteriorated risk sharing capabilities undermine system efficiency. In addition, adverse selection and cost containment add to the already lengthy list of problems that high-risk pools have yet to address. Limited subsidies, high out-of-pocket payments, strict eligibility rules, and insufficient program awareness remain the four major barriers to health equity for the uninsurable. While studies on the overseas healthcare system have revealed several inadequacies regarding the high-risk pool mechanism, these uncertainties have to be resolved before Hong Kong can move forward to improve its healthcare efficiency and equity. More thoughts should be given on how the risk sharing capability can be enhanced within the insurance industry. Without a clear definition or a standardized underwriting rule that clearly defines “high-risk”, the high-risk pool could become a platform to practice adverse selection and further deteriorate the already limited risk sharing among the population. For addressing the issue of cost containment, the DRG charging system and chronic disease management programs are pivotal components to be incorporated. The government should perform a concrete assessment to justify how the spending on high-risk pool can essentially promote a more equitable system in Hong Kong. By considering the impact on both private insurance market and the public healthcare system, the government should further consider how to implement a high-risk pool that can effectively improve the healthcare efficiency and equity in Hong Kong.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsCreative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.subject.lcshHealth insurance - China - Hong Kong-
dc.titleHigh-risk insurance pool : a systematic review and assessment on efficiency and equity in healthcare-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.identifier.hkulb5320585-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Public Health-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePublic Health-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.identifier.doi10.5353/th_b5320585-

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