12th January 1999

Consultancy Report of Harvard University - Attack of Private Doctors

It was reported in one local newspaper on 6.1.1999 that the Consultancy Report of Professor William Hsiao of the Harvard University suggested that the SAR's private doctors were the highest paid in the world, with average earnings of $3 million a year, and they were incompetent, over-charging, over-prescribing! The EDA Council responded immediately and issued a Press Release pointing out that the accusation of Professor Hsiao is groundless and his Report on financing of the healthcare system of Hong Kong is biased against private doctors in Hong Kong. We reproduced below the EDA's Press Release and the subsequent reports in Apple Daily and SCMP for your information.

7th January, 1999

Press Release

ESTATE DOCTORS DO NOT OVERCHARGE contrary to wild claims by persons making such irresponsible remarks.

The Hong Kong citizens are fully aware of the structure of medical fee of doctors of Hong Kong, especially those doctors serving in the public housing estates. The Survey of Estate Doctors Association last year revealed charges range from $120 to $180 (including 2 days medicine).

Actually, we have been conducting annual survey on our members which is listed below for your information:-

Time of Study Average private doctor's charge

June/1998 $150 - 159 June/1997 $140 - 149 June/1996 $130 - 149 It was reported in one local newspaper on 6.1.1999 that Professor William Hsiao of Harvard University has obtained data from the Inland Revenue Department and he concluded from the data that the annual income of a private doctor is $3.1 to $3.9 million in 1995/1996.

The Estate Doctors Association is of the opinion that such conclusion drawn by Professor Hsiao is groundless. His Report on financing of the healthcare system of Hong Kong is biased against private doctors in Hong Kong. According to the statistics reported by the same local newspaper on 6.1.1999, the profit tax of medical practitioners and dentists of Hong Kong amounts to HK$0.59 billions in 1995/96. On further calculation from this figure, we can hardly conclude that each private doctor had an annual income of HK$3.1-3.9 million in 1995/1996. Instead we get a much lower figure of around HK$0.6 million in 1995/1996 for an average doctor, whether he is in private or public service.

We are indeed shocked to find such simple calculation error in this extremely expensive Consultant Report.

As such, we strongly urge the government to release the Consultant Report as early as possible in order to ease the worries and to clear the misunderstanding of the Hong Kong citizens in the future health care financing of Hong Kong.

P.S. According to the information of the Medical Council of Hong Kong, the total no. of medical practitioners in Hong Kong in 1996 was 8,976. (7,845 in resident list, 1,131 in overseas list)

Note to Editor:

Estate Doctors Association(EDA) has been established over 30 years in Hong Kong. The main objective of EDA is to provide and promote community health care, especially in public housing estates which house over half of the Hong Kong population. At present, the number of our member doctors is 1,500 mostly in private practice. About 300 of them are practising in public housing estates.