9th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) Acting Secretary for Health, Libby Lee Ha-yun, has announced that elderly citizens will not be required to present a marriage certificate when linking their Health Care Voucher accounts to share balances with their spouse. This statement was made during a Legislative Council meeting on June 9th. Lee assured lawmakers that elderly citizens only need to declare their marital status without the need for documentation. However, she stressed that they will be held accountable for their declarations and that authorities will review the data for any irregularities.
The Health Bureau had submitted a document detailing enhancements to the Health Care Voucher scheme to the Legislative Council. Starting in July, elderly couples can link their voucher accounts and share the remaining balance after registering with their identity cards and declaring their marital status. While this move is a benevolent policy, lawmakers have expressed concerns about its implementation.
Kowloon Central lawmaker Kitson Yang Wing-kit had questioned whether elderly couples would need to present a marriage certificate to declare their marital status. He pointed out that not every elderly couple has a marriage certificate due to past traditions. He also raised concerns about the possibility of two single elderly people registering their accounts to share their vouchers, leading to the abuse of public resources.
Lawmaker Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan from the election committee constituency echoed these concerns and asked how authorities would prevent the vouchers from being abused if elderly citizens had their accounts registered by others. She also noted that many elderly citizens are unaware of the remaining balance in their voucher accounts.
In response, Lee explained that elderly citizens would need to display a copy of their partner’s identity card when using their partner’s voucher. The authorities will also send a text message to the user and their partner to alert them of the remaining value in the voucher every time it is used. The Department of Health will review the data to check for irregularities, such as an elderly citizen registering multiple times a year.