An expat guide to healthcare and health insurance in Hong Kong
Are you researching an expat health insurance for Hong Kong? It is important to inform yourself on the local healthcare system first.
Whether you are moving to Hong Kong or you are already living there as an expat, read our guide to the Hong Kong healthcare system, your different options of medical insurance for Hong Kong and an overview of the average cost of local healthcare.
- Total population (2017): 7.19 million
- Gross national income per capita (PPP international $, 2017): 61,000
- Life expectancy at birth m/f (years, 2017): 83
- Life expectancy at birth (per 1000 population, 2017) : 2.7
Healthcare in Hong Kong for expats
In a 2013 Bloomberg ranking, Hong Kong was named the country with the best healthcare system in the world. The quality of the care is of a very high level, the doctors are extremely well qualified and certain hospitals in Hong Kong are considered among the best in the world.
However, it comes at a cost. Healthcare in Hong Kong is extremely expensive if you are not eligible for the local health care system: medical costs in Hong Kong are among the most expensive in the world. This is why it is important for an expat to have a private health insurance policy.
The public healthcare system in Hong Kong is financed by the State, without the need for a contribution from the employer or the employee and the fees for doctors and hospitals are subsidised. Overall, the quality of healthcare in the public and the private sector are similar.
The main difference is the level of service received. The public healthcare system is of good quality, attracting patients from all over China and neighbouring countries. Consequently, waiting lists can be lengthy (not including A&E) for certain treatments or for in-patient treatment.
In semi-private and private medical centres, waiting lists are much shorter, the rooms are more comfortable and the visiting hours are more flexible. These medical centres charge among the highest fees in the world, for which it is essential to have subscribed to a medical insurance.
The public healthcare system is only accessible to those who hold a local identity card, subject to certain residency conditions. If you do not hold a local identity card you are not able to benefit from the subsidised rates and you must pay the entirety of your medical costs. In this case, it is essential to take out local or international private medical insurance.
Local health insurance
Local health insurance policies are based on the average medical cost of an individual, the premiums are then adjusted depending on the amount of claims you make. These local insurance policies are only valid within Hong Kong. Therefore, to be covered abroad or in your home country you will need to subscribe to a supplementary insurance policy.
Local insurance policies do not guarantee renewal. Contrary to insurance policies in Europe where policies are renewed tacitly no matter what state of health you are in, in Hong Kong the insurance companies re-examine your file at each renewal: you can lose your insurance if your medical state changed. This can have tragic consequences on unwell patients in the middle of expensive medical treatment. For this reason, international health insurance can be a more suitable option for expats in Hong Kong
International health insurance for expats in Hong Kong
An international health insurance for Hong Kong is often a better option for expats than a local health plan. It offers the freedom in your choice of doctors or medical centre, not only within Hong Kong but in many other countries (within your zone of cover). Moreover, if you leave Hong Kong and move elsewhere your international insurance may be able to follow you.
Unlike a local insurance policy, an international health insurance doesn’t exclude the medical conditions developed after your contract started.
If you would like wider financial protection in the event of stopping work due to an accident or disabling illness, Expat Assure can also advise you on expat life insurance for Hong Kong and income protection. To find out more, please, read our page on income protection and life insurance for expatriates.
What is the best health insurance for expats in Hong Kong?
The best health insurance in Hong Kong for another expat might not be the best for you as everyone has different needs and expectations.
In order to find which one is the best health insurance in Hong Kong for you, it is important to consider several aspects such as your medical history, your age, your specific needs in terms of medical cover, your situation in Portugal, alongside other parameters.
How much does healthcare cost in Hong Kong?
Consultation with a private GP: the majority of doctors charge around 250 HKD (£25 / $32). However, certain doctors charge up to 1000 HKD (£100 / $128). Generally, doctors who trained abroad or who speak multiple languages charge higher fees.
Consultation with a private specialist: the fees are often between 400 HKD and 1,200 HKD (£40 – £120/ $50 – $150).
Consultation with a private dentist: the fees are often between 500 HKD and 1,000 HKD (£50 – £100/ $64 – $128). Having a crown fitted would cost between 7,000 HKD and 17,000 HKD (£707 – £1,424 / $900 – $2,175).
Hospital charges: as mentioned above, private hospital charges in Hong Kong are among the most expensive in the world. However, many hospitals request a deposit before admission is granted. In some hospitals this deposit is higher if you are not a Hong Kong resident. The deposit for non-residents is often between 30,000 HKD and 40,000 HKD (£3,030 – £4,040 / $3,840 – $5,120)
Please find below the general pricings for one night in hospital (this does not include consultations, medicines, operations or other treatments):
- Standard room with multiple occupants: from 480 HKD0 to 1,650 HKD (£48 – £165 / $61 – $211)
- Semi private room: from 900 HKD to 2,430 HKD (£90 – £245 / $115 – $310)
- Individual room: from 1,600 HKD to 6,500 HKD (£160 – £656 / $204 – $832)
- Suite: from 5,000 HKD to 21,000 HKD (£504 – £2,120 / $640 – $2,690)
In the public sector the fees vary depending on whether or not you hold a local identity card, proving whether or not you are eligible for state subsidies. For example, for one night in the hospital, the fee for an identity card holder will be 100 HKD (£10 / $13) per day with 50 HKD (£5 / $6.5) to pay on admission. For a non-card holder, the fee for one night at the hospitals increases to 4,680 HKD (£472 / $600). For A&E, the fees starts around 100 HKD (£10 / $13) for a card holder and 990 HKD (£100 / $130) for a non-card holder.
*Exchange rate December 2018
Such as with any type of health insurance, the price of a medical insurance for expats in Hong Kong varies greatly depending on the personal situation, the age, the medical history of each individual as well as other parameters. If you would like to have an idea of the cost of private health insurance for Hong Kong, we can prepare for you a personalised comparison of different international health insurance plans. Contact us today for your free health insurance comparison.
Such as with any type of health insurance, the price of a medical insurance for expats in Hong Kong varies greatly depending on the personal situation, the age, the medical history of each individual as well as other parameters.
If you would like to have an idea of the cost of private health insurance for Hong Kong, we can prepare for you a personalised comparison of different international health insurance plans. Contact us today for your free health insurance comparison.
Vaccinations You are not required to have any specific vaccinations to enter Hong Kong. However, it is recommended to ensure that your immunisation schedule is up to date (diphtheria, tetanus and polio). The Hepatitis A booster jab is advised by the NHS Fit-for-Travel website, as well as Hepatitis B being recommended.
Emergencies (police, fire brigade, ambulance) 999
Chinese medicine In Hong Kong, where tradition and modernity coexist, herbal remedies and acupuncture are not considered as alternative medicine but are recognised and regulated by the State. In total, more than a fifth of medical consultations are carried out by Chinese medicine practitioners. Traditional herbal remedies, such as ephedra, are available in Hong Kong pharmacies alongside Western medicine, even though they are banned in other parts of the world.
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