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Healthcare in Hong Kong
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Are you planning to relocate to Hong Kong but still wondering how the local healthcare system works? Here is all the information that you need to know before moving to the city.

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Hong Kong excels in healthcare

The statistics on healthcare in Hong Kong are really reassuring for expatriates living in or planning to relocate to the country. Indeed, Hong Kong boasts one of the healthiest populations in the world. Its residents have the second highest life expectancy, which is largely due to its fantastic healthcare system.
In 2018, Hong Kong was ranked as the location with the most efficient health care in the world by Bloomberg. What makes Hong Kong's healthcare system unique is that it sports a dual-track system, with high-quality healthcare offered by both public and private facilities.

Public and private healthcare in Hong Kong

Between public and private facilities, Healthcare in Hong Kong is incredibly accessible, offers a full range of medical specialties and is more than capable of providing high quality care in Cantonese, English or Mandarin.

Public healthcare

Public healthcare facilities are run by 2 major government organisations, the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health. The Hospital Authority operates 43 public hospitals, 73 general outpatient clinics (GOPCs), and 49 specialist outpatient clinics which are organized into geographical clusters. Services  in clusters are structured with the purpose of ensuring patients can receive the full course of care for their medical issue, from onset to followup, close to where they live. There are additional community medical clinics run by the Department of Health which tend to focus on more specific medical areas, such as women's health and elderly care.
Public healthcare is heavily subsidised by the government, making treatment incredibly affordable for eligible people, generally people holding a valid Hong Kong ID card. For instance, a stay in a public hospital would be only HK$100-120 (US$13-15.50) per day after admission costs as an HKID holder, versus HK$5,100 for a non-eligible person.

Private healthcare

Hong Kong also has a robust selection of private medical providers as well. On top of 12 private hospitals, there are hundreds of private outpatient facilities from neighbourhood GPs, to specialist clinics, diagnostic centres and laboratories across Hong Kong. You can find a full range of medical specialists for inpatient and outpatient care, including traditional Chinese medical practitioners which have been a regulated part of the Hong Kong healthcare landscape since 1999.

Pros and cons of public and private medicine

While both public and private healthcare facilities are readily accessible and provide a high quality of care, there are pros and cons to each. Given it's high level of subsidies, public healthcare facilities are understandably well-trafficked, especially hospitals. In fact, approximately 90% of inpatient treatment is done in public hospitals, compared to about 32% of outpatient treatment in public facilities. This is despite the fact that the Hospital Authority only employs around 40% of the doctors in Hong Kong.
Given the heavy usage of public facilities, it often leaves them understaffed which has been a chronic issue in Hong Kong for many years, which has a number of effects. Primarily, it leads to a longer wait when seeking treatment, not just in cases of Accident & Emergency where for semi-urgent cases you might be waiting well over an hour, but also for scheduled treatments where for planned surgeries you could be waiting a number of weeks or even months for an availability. Additionally, it means that when visiting public healthcare services, you will not be guaranteed to see the same doctor you saw last time so they will be less familiar with your case than a doctor you choose yourself and see repeatedly.
On the flip side, with private healthcare you can be assured your appointments will be with the doctor of your choice, and that any tests, treatments or surgeries can be scheduled within a much shorter period of time than with a public healthcare service. However, this does come with it's own drawbacks, first among them is that private healthcare in Hong Kong is extraordinarily expensive. While a trip to the GP can range between HK$250-1000 which is manageable, anything that requires hospitalisation can easily start to cost tens of thousands of dollars, with more complex treatments such as for cancer running into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is why many people in Hong Kong take out private medical insurance to help cover the costs of private hospitals and clinics. There are of course ways to help reduce the costs of private care in Hong Kong though.

Local vs international health insurance

The biggest advantage of local health insurance policies in Hong Kong is that they are often a lot cheaper than international ones. Premiums are often calculated according to the number of claims that have been made by the patient so for perfectly healthy people, this solution can be very cheap. Also, if you travel frequently, you have to note that local policies may not cover you outside Hong Kong, so you will probably have to subscribe to an additional travel insurance policy.
More often than not, if you have a medical issue, private hospitals and doctors will be able to take care of it immediately. You will have a larger choice of hospitals, practitioners and treatments. Many international plans will also provide you with repatriation and emergency evacuation. More importantly, international insurers have a network of hospitals where your bills can be settled directly, so you won’t have to pay any of your medical fees in advance. And finally, if you subscribe to a portable insurance policy, you will also be able to keep your insurance whether your move to another country, go home or simply retire. For a more in-depth look at some of the differences between local and international health insurance policies and what you should consider when comparing them, click here.

International health insurance designed for people in Hong Kong

APRIL Hong Kong has designed for you and your family MyHEALTH, which will provide you with a comprehensive and fully flexible cover for all your medical expenses in Hong Kong and abroad. Our packages can be tailor-made to suit your every need, they are fully portable and you won’t have to pay any medical fees in advance if you are admitted to hospital. To make your life easier, we also created the Easy Claim app which will allow you to send us your medical claims by smartphone and receive your reimbursement in only a few days.

Contact us  Build Your Plan Online

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