Terminated FDHs should still get subsidized medical assistance in HK–lawmaker

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BECAUSE of their contribution to Hong Kong’s economy, foreign domestic workers should still be able to access subsidized medical services in public hospitals even if they had been terminated, a lawmaker said.

Legislative Council (LegCo) member Fernando Cheung, chair LegCo Panel on Manpower, said he will propose this month for the HK government to provide medical insurance for FDHs so that they can still avail of subsidized public healthcare services even if their contract had been terminated.

“Why do we propose health insurance obligations by the government? So that access to migrant domestic workers’ health after contract termination remains the same as Hong Kong residents generally,” Cheung said in an interview.

“We want these government health insurance obligations to be included in their employment contracts,” he added.

Cheung’s proposal came after a Filipino domestic worker, Baby Jane Allas, was terminated after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Her sister’s employer had to organize and online fundraising campaign so that that Allas could continue with her cancer treatment here in HK while pursuing a labor case against her former employer.

As a terminated worker, she could no longer avail of subsidized public healthcare services under the Hospital Authority.

Cheung said that a terminated worker could still go to public hospitals here in Hong Kong but they will be treated “as foreigners or tourists” who will have to pay expensive medical fees. The lawmaker said a one-night stay at a government hospital could cost “around $4,000.”

To ensure that foreign domestic workers get the health assistance that they need, Cheung and other Hong Kong lawmakers are thinking of making medical insurance mandatory in their employment contract.

LegCo member Kenneth Leung earlier said that Cheung would also suggest at the LegCo that it should be compulsory for employers to secure medical insurance for their foreign domestic workers.

He said that employers are currently required to get “employees compensation insurance” while medical insurance was only “optional.”

“It is optional now for your employer to take out a medical insurance policy for you but, my honorable colleague is going to suggest that medical insurance should be a compulsory requirement,” Leung said.

Leung said that as long as a foreign domestic worker is legally staying in Hong Kong, she should “be regarded as a local” and enjoy the same health benefits in government hospitals or medical centers.

“Your rights to medical service and public hospitals and clinics should be the same as our local Hong Kong residents. (Those are) two proposals (Cheung) is going to make and many of us (in the LegCo) are going to support,” he added.