Are you new to Hong Kong and looking for a health insurance provider? Or have you been using the city’s public healthcare system and are now looking to make a switch? Little Steps deep dives into the ins and outs of health insurance in Hong Kong – deciphering the differences between the private and public sectors, explaining the medical jargon, and recommending the city’s best family insurance providers.
Hong Kong is blessed with a robust public healthcare system that rivals most countries around the world. If you hold a valid Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID), regardless of whether you are a Hong Kong citizen, you can receive care in the public system. Doctors are first-rate. The city’s 43 public hospitals are clean and equipped with modern technology. Most importantly, costs are heavily subsidized by the Hong Kong Government, requiring patients to pay very little out of pocket.
That said, there are several reasons why some families opt for private health insurance instead. Firstly, public hospitals are crowded and waiting times for appointments can be anywhere from an hour to the better part of a day. Secondly, people can wait for months, if not years, for non-urgent surgical procedures. And lastly, if you’re after a good bedside manner, you may not find it in the public system. Doctors and nurses work long hours and have little time for each patient, often resulting in what may feel like hurried consultations.
In summary, while Hong Kong’s public healthcare system is first-class, the aforementioned reasons push some people into the private sector. And due to the high costs of private healthcare, purchasing the right type of health insurance for you and your family is extremely important.
Before you commit to costly, private health insurance, it’s good to educate yourself on the jargon. Below are a few keywords and phrases that commonly appear in an insurance plan.
Now you’re armed with an understanding of all the terms listed above. We can dive into what they mean when you’re comparing health insurance plans for your family.
The premium, or cost of the plan, will likely be one of the first things you consider. It’s fairly logical that plans with higher premiums tend to cover more. Still, you may look through the list of inclusions and decide that you don’t need things like dental, physiotherapy, homeopathy, and optical services, and therefore opt for a plan with a lower premium and fewer inclusions.
You can play with the numbers when it comes to deductibles and copays to see if they're worth it to pay a lower premium. For example, if a plan has the option of a HK$20,000 premium for hospitalization or a HK$12,000 premium with a HK$16,000 deductible, you may decide it's worth the risk and opt for the lower premium. If you get through the year without requiring hospitalization, then you come out on top, having saved HK$8,000 (the difference between HK$20,000 and HK$12,000). However, if you do require hospitalization, then you may lose out as you could end up paying HK$28,000 (HK$12,000 plus the HK$16,000 deductible).
It’s also important to consider whether you want inpatient care (standard with most plans) or outpatient care as well, which can double your premium in some cases. Families with young children who are often sick will likely see the benefits of outpatient care. However, families with older kids or adults may see that their outpatient costs don’t amount to much each year and decide that it’s not worth the extra cost.
Geographical coverage is another thing you should consider, as the cost of medical insurance plans will often vary depending on which areas are covered. If you live in Hong Kong and rarely travel, something that covers Asia should only be sufficient. If you are an expatriate living in Hong Kong and frequently travel home each year, then perhaps consider a plan that has worldwide coverage.
And lastly, it’s always important to read the fine print. Some plans will have a cap on hospitalization, outpatient consultations, and medicines, whereas others will have unlimited coverage.
Hong Kong’s public healthcare system offers exceptional services to expecting mothers. However, if you do opt for a private birth, maternity insurance will make a huge difference as the costs can be truly eye-watering. Expect to pay anywhere from HK$100,000 to HK$250,000+ depending on the hospital, room type, obstetrician, and type of birth you choose. Maternity insurance is often an additional cost on top of your regular insurance plan and can cover three main areas:
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing maternity insurance is that most plans have a waiting period of anywhere from 9 to 18 months (12 months being the norm). This means that you will need to wait 12 months from the date of purchasing your plan to get pregnant – if you conceive before 12 months, you will not be entitled to any of the benefits.
There are dozens of health insurance providers in Hong Kong, but we’ve handpicked a few of our favorites: