VHIS

4 Considerations Before Migrating Medical Insurance to VHIS

According to the Food and Health Bureau (FHB) website, VHIS (Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme) is a government-certified plan with tax-deductible premiums. While VHIS is an attractive choice, there are pros and cons just like any other insurance plan. If you are thinking of migrating to VHIS, here are 4 things you should consider.
Author Bowtie Team
Date 2021-06-21
Updated on 2021-06-21
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1. What are the differences between your current insurance plan and VHIS?2. Do you need an unlimited lifetime benefit limit?3. During VHIS migration, does the insurer require re-underwriting?4. Do the same premium discounts apply if I switch to VHIS?Final Tip: Mind the 'Waiting period' and 'Migration period'

1. What are the differences between your current insurance plan and VHIS?

One of the distinctive benefits of VHIS is that it covers ‘psychiatric inpatient treatments in local hospitals’ while most insurance plans don’t. 

VHIS also covers prescribed diagnostic imaging tests’ such as MRI scans conducted during the hospital stay or in an outpatient setting, while policyholder pays only 30% of the fee.

If you need the above protection, then it’s worth considering migrating to VHIS.

2. Do you need an unlimited lifetime benefit limit?

Since typical insurance plans are not regulated by FHB, insurers have greater flexibility in tightening the terms and conditions.

For example, most medical insurances have lifetime benefit limits ranging from a million up to tens of millions of dollars. However, insurers have the right to change the terms and conditions at every policy anniversary year and potentially raise premiums based on your claim history.

On the other hand, VHIS has only an annual benefit limit of HK$420,000 and no lifetime benefit limit. Even if the policyholder receives the full annual claim amount of HK$420,000, insurers must guarantee renewal without making any changes to the terms and conditions. In the event of changes, it would be only for improving the terms for the policyholder.

3. During VHIS migration, does the insurer require re-underwriting?

According to the FHB website, 3 scenarios will occur from the launch of VHIS:

  • Scenario 1: The insurance company will directly renew your existing plan into a Certified Plan (i.e. same plan with VHIS features incorporated) at your policy renewal without re-underwriting
  • Scenario 2: The insurance company offers an option for you to change to a Certified Plan from the same provider during the ‘migration period’ and you may be subject to re-underwriting.
  • Scenario 3: You can choose to switch from a non-Certified Plan at your existing insurance provider to a Certified Plan from another insurer during the ‘migration period’ and the new insurer may require re-underwriting.

Not all insurance companies require re-underwriting, so it’s important to clearly understand the re-underwriting terms and conditions.

4. Do the same premium discounts apply if I switch to VHIS?

Some insurance companies offer no claim bonus or discounts. If you have not made any claims, insurers may offer premium discounts to you the following year as a way to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

If you plan to switch to VHIS at the same insurance company or to another insurance company, make sure you check if you are still eligible for the ‘premium discounts’.

Final Tip: Mind the 'Waiting period' and 'Migration period'

Generally speaking, new customers cannot make a claim within the first 30 days after policy approval. This period is known as the ‘waiting period’. However, this waiting period is waived for VHIS (apart from pre-existing conditions) and the policy is effective immediately.

It’s also important to note the ‘migration period’. FHB recommends insurance companies offer 1 year so that policyholders could consider switching to VHIS or not. Though, the decision is still in the insurance company’s hands.

If you decide to switch to VHIS after the ‘migration period’, you may need to terminate your existing policy in order to purchase a VHIS plan.

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