Hong Kong’s consumer watchdog says it has been receiving complaints about some clinics and shops that are participating in the Elderly Health Care Vouchers program.
The Consumer Council said on Thursday that it has received complaints that some medical centers and shops were overcharging senior citizens or inducing them to making unnecessary purchases.
Also, there have been allegations that some clinics displaying the Health Care Voucher logo had refused to accept the vouchers, saying the doctor on duty has not registered in the scheme, the Council said in a press release.
Among the complaints received by the watchdog this year involved a clinic that charged an elderly person with urological problems HK$3,000 for five days’ herbal medicines and HK$1,000 for consultation.
The senior citizen was surprised by the expensive medical bill and raised some questions. The clinic then offered certain discounts but the patient still ended up paying HK$203 out of his own pocket after using up the remaining balance in the account under the voucher scheme.
The clinic argued that they had informed the senior citizen beforehand about the medicine fee, and also claimed that the medicines were acquired through special channels.
The senior citizen’s son was, however, not convinced with the explanation, prompting him to lodge a complaint with the Consumer Council.
In another case, an optical shop sold two pair of identical spectacles, except for the color, to an elderly customer, charging him around HK$1,000 for each pair.
The shopkeeper suggested the elderly to buy one pair for indoors and an extra pair for outdoor use.
The elderly person’s daughter deemed such suggestions unreasonable and accused the shop of dishonestly taking advantage of her father.
Shops “should, based on the records of the elderly’s Health Care Voucher accounts, explain in detail their account balance, the amount to be deducted, and obtain their consent before provision of services,” the Council said.
The watchdog, meanwhile, also suggested that relatives and carers should help the elderly understand the details and charges of the services provided.