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As parents-to-be, it is one of the first big decisions you have to make for your children: will you give birth in a private or a public hospital? In this new episode of Abroad With Care, Andrea interviews Rosie Adams, registered midwife working at OT&P Healthcare in Hong Kong. Rosie sheds some light on this topic and helps you make an informed decision.

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What level of medical care should expats expect when giving birth in Asia? 
In Hong Kong and Singapore, we are fortunate enough to have access to very safe medical care in both the public and private systems. The way of working certainly differs within both systems, but at the core the standard of care is high, the hospitals are safe and their way of working does share some similarities to more Western healthcare practices. 

It is also key to understand the pregnancy and parenthood culture in Asia. What are the key traditions and beliefs?
After speaking with clients, the main feedback I have received is that the approach to communication is quite different in Asian medicine. 

In Western medicine, there is a huge emphasis on open communication and informed choice. Here, the approach tends to be a little different. In the public system, the antenatal appointments are very short and they operate with a ‘no news is good news’ approach. Some parents may wish for more open dialogue with their caregivers. There is less of this reported in the private system, however, as the appointments are much longer and you have the freedom to choose a doctor who is the right fit for you.

Let’s now talk about prenatal care. What are the differences between using prenatal care in public and private?
The first main difference between public and private is appointment times and continuity of care. Appointments in the public system tend to be around 5-10 minutes long with a 2-3 hour wait each time. You will also see different midwives and doctors each visit. 

In the private system, there are longer appointment times (around 30 minutes), more flexibility, and the benefit of seeing the same doctor each time. The public system will also usually just do 2 ultrasound scans at 12 and 20 weeks, and no more until you deliver. This is all that is clinically needed if there are no complications, but the private system has the ability to perform additional scans, should you wish. Hong Kong and Singapore have similar ways of carrying out prenatal care in the public and private systems.  

We understand that it is important to think of your specific needs before making a decision. What criteria should we take into consideration to choose private or public? 
Both systems have both positives and minuses. A huge consideration will be cost: the public system costs next to nothing for residents and the cost of private healthcare is significantly more, depending on your doctor and where you choose to deliver. 
The communication element will also have an impact on decision-making, and some may find the lack of continuity in the public system difficult. 
Of course, the comfort level also differs between systems, with most of the care in the public system being in shared wards and only active labour and delivery itself being in a private delivery room. 
Here in Hong Kong, the strict coronavirus restrictions have also prompted many to question and reconsider their place of delivery. For a time, the public system did not allow women to give birth with their partners present. The private system never stopped allowing birth partners to attend at any time.
Overall, the level of physical care is extremely safe and of a very high standard in both the public and private systems in Hong Kong and Singapore, and the choice for which system to choose will be very personal and based on your own individual needs, wishes and financial considerations.

At APRIL International Care, we are specialist in designing and delivering flexible international health insurance for individuals, families and companies in Asia. For more information, explore our MyHEALTH plans for expats in Asia. 

You can contact our different offices around Asia and request a quote, our experts will be happy to assist you!

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