MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): Currently, there are frequent criticisms about commercial medical insurance concerning the many exempted items such as existing illnesses and psychiatric diseases. Besides, premiums for the old-aged are high and are increasing tremendously. The main reason is that insurance companies have to charge according to the risks involved. One of the discussed solutions in the health care reform consultation document is basically to launch a scheme without exempted items in which elderly people can also be insured and no substantial fees increase would be necessary even with claims. However, there is a prerequisite that the number of participants has to be sufficient, which is around one million. Currently 400 000 civil service eligible persons are insured under the existing medical scheme provided by the Government. I would like to ask the Government whether it would consider including the 400 000 civil servants and their dependents into the future scheme so that the number required can be sufficient …… the number has to be one million, but if there are already 400 000 participants, the chance of the scheme being materialized would be greater. I would like to learn about the view of the Government.
SECRETARY FOR THE CIVIL SERVICE (in Cantonese): President, thank you for the supplementary question. Perhaps I can provide the Council withmore updated data. According to the information we have got, the number of civil service eligible persons who are eligible for Government medical and dental benefits is about 525 000. As for the crux of the problem, this is also why we monitor so closely the consultation papers issued by Food and Health Bureau last year, which we had, on our own initiative, passed to the staff representatives and representatives from the retiree associations for their comments. We would keep a close watch on this and invite the staff sides of serving civil servants and retired civil servant organizations to provide views on the content of the second-phase consultation papers. I do not have any formed views on the issues raised today.