HK lawmakers eye mandatory medical insurance for FDHs

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

Legislative Council (LegCo) member Kenneth Leung said in a forum on March 24 that his colleague, lawmaker Fernando Cheung, will suggest to the government that it should be compulsory for employers to secure medical insurance for their foreign domestic workers.

“I can tell you we are doing something at the Legislative Council level. One of my colleagues—the Honorable Fernando Cheung…(he) is really a fighter for human rights and the rights for disabled…He is going to suggest to the government making medical insurance compulsory in your employment contract,” Leung told overseas Filipino workers during the forum at the Philippine Consulate General (PCG).

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,” he said.

Leung made the statement after a Filipino domestic worker, Baby Jane Allas, was fired after she was diagnosed with cancer. The PCG had also asked the Hong Kong government to make annual medical checks mandatory for FDHs due to the increasing number of Filipino workers getting sick.

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.

Leung said many LegCo members were concerned about protecting the rights of foreign domestic workers in HK.

“I just want to let you know that many members in the council are very concerned about human rights and also the rights of domestic helpers here in Hong Kong because we really appreciate your contribution to the growth and to the economy of Hong Kong and that is very much appreciated,” Leung said.

“Now although sometimes in the newspaper you read about some very unfortunate stories but I do hope that these are the exceptions. We do as Hong Kong people, really appreciate your help and contribution here and this is your second home,” he added.