Health | Exclusive subsidies to be given to Hengqin’s Macau residents

Hengqin island seen under construction

The Macau SAR government has decided to provide subsidies to Macau residents who live in Hengqin to allow them to use Zhuhai’s healthcare services, the Health Bureau (SSM) announced yesterday during a press conference.

During yesterday’s press conference, the SSM revealed that starting from July 1 this year, Macau residents who live in Hengqin and have a mainland residence permit can join Zhuhai’s basic medical insurance system.

A pilot period between six months to a year has been set for the policy to be implemented.

According to the policy, students and minors will pay RMB180 per year to obtain medical insurance, whereas other qualifying Macau residents will pay RMB410 annually to enjoy Zhuhai’s medical insurance.

The Zhuhai government will provide RMB590 for each of the aforementioned Macau residents, the same amount given to Zhuhai residents.

Macau residents who do not have a mainland residence permit but own properties or rent offices in Hengqin can also join. However, these residents will bear all the costs of joining Zhuhai’s medical insurance system.

On top of Zhuhai taxpayers’ contribution of RMB590, the Macau government will also use a “small amount” of its own public money to further support some of those who have joined Zhuhai’s medical insurance scheme.

For children aged 10 or below, primary and secondary school students, and people aged 65 or above, the local government will bear all the insurance fees.

Ho Ioc San, deputy director of the SSM, said that the government will publish the subsidy amounts in the government’s Official Gazette.

Currently, 282 Macau residents are living in Hengqin with a mainland residence permit. There are also over 3,000 Macau residents who own properties or rent offices in Hengqin.

According to Ho, the local government has a budget of approximately MOP40,000 for annual subsidies.

When questioned by the media on whether it is fair for the government to provide subsidies to some Macau residents, while Macau residents who do not live in Zhuhai do not receive subsidies, Ho did not give a straight answer.

“The budget depends on the number of participants. Twenty percent of the 282 people are aged 65 or above. Even if all the qualified people join the medical insurance, it will be approximately MOP40,000 each year. It’s not a lot of money,” said Ho, adding “the amount is really not that big.”

“This is an experimental measure. In order to encourage Macau people to merge into Greater Bay Area [cities on the mainland], we hope that there are some protections for Macau residents. We hope that these measures can encourage them to go to GBA cities,” said Ho.

In 2018, some 2,017 Macau residents and 351 Macau students joined Zhuhai’s medical insurance system.

There were 349 registered uses of Zhuhai medical insurance by Macau residents and outpatient clinic service insurance was used 4,408 times.

In total, Zhuhai’s basic insurance fund spent RMB3.63 million on Macau residents in 2018.

Cheng Zhitao, director of the Bureau of Healthcare Security of Zhuhai, said that currently, the benefits will only be given to Macau residents who live in Hengqin but not to Macau residents who live in other parts of Zhuhai.

Cheng believes that China will launch more policies in 2019 to expand the medical insurance policy to more cities in the Greater Bay Area and other parts of mainland China.

Basic insurance covers 90% of patient costs during hospitalization. The maximum coverage is up to RMB720,000 per year.

In total, Zhuhai has approximately 1,500 medical service organizations. Basic medical insurance covers all of them.

The insurance allows Macau participants to be transferred to hospitals outside of Zhuhai but within Guangdong province.

Earlier this year, Li Nanhai, a representative of Zhuhai’s National People’s Congress, complained that healthcare development is unbalanced between the west and east areas of Zhuhai. Li accused Zhuhai’s two major hospitals of being always packed with patients.

Macau residents who live in Hengqin can choose medical services from one of the 1,500 medical organizations across Zhuhai. At the current stage, however, there are not many choices in Hengqin.

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