Living in Hong Kong: An Expat’s Guide

Living in Hong Kong: An Expat’s Guide

Moving to or living in Hong Kong? What are my choices when it comes to healthcare in Hong Kong? How does Hong Kong's healthcare system compare to others in Asia and around the world? Do I need medical insurance while living in Hong Kong?

This article will provide an overview of the information you need to know about healthcare in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong's renowned healthcare system

Hong Kong's residents are considered some of the happiest, and healthiest people in the world. The island has the second highest life expectancy in the world at 84 for females and 78 for males, thanks in large part because of their highly developed healthcare system.

Hong Kong's government-operated hospital system is managed by the Hong Kong's Health Authority. There are 164 public hospitals and clinics and about 12 private hospitals. The island also boasts some of the most state-of-the-art medical equipment and is the leading manufacturer of medical equipment and supplies.

Public hospitals in Hong Kong

The Hospital Authority manages 41 public hospitals and institutions, 48 Specialist Out-patient Clinics, and 74 General Out-patient Clinics that are divided into seven hospital clusters by location. These clusters help maintain a standard of high-quality care within the area and during a patient's illness.
Fees for public hospitals vary by eligible and non-eligible persons. For example, a general outpatient visit will cost an eligible person HKD 45, while a non-eligible person will need to pay HKD 215 per visit. Accident and emergency fees start at HKD 100 for eligible persons yet non-eligible persons starts at HKD 570.

Eligible persons include:

  1. holders of Hong Kong Identity Card issued under the Registration of Persons Ordinance;
  2. children under 11 years of age with Hong Kong resident status; and
  3. other persons approved by the Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority.

People who do not meet the above criteria are classified as non-eligible.

Private hospitals in Hong Kong

The island has 12 private hospitals, which have partnered with the United Kingdom for international healthcare accreditation. Yet thee Department of Health still regulates private hospitals and medical clinics registered with the Medical Clinics Ordinance. The Department of Health also completes thorough inspections to ensure these clinics and hospitals follow relevant regulations and manages complaints from the public.

Expats and healthcare

If you're planning to move to or are living in Hong Kong, you don't need to be overly worried with healthcare. It is recommended that you fully understand your employer's health plan.

These plans can range in the level of coverage one receives, and there may also be restrictions on which doctors are covered in the plan. For everyday problems, expats can see private medical practitioners, but when it comes to more critical concerns – like childbirth and surgeries – public hospitals are suitable for most expats. Again, these choices depend on an employer's health plan.

Hong Kong also has many doctors who earned their medical degrees in the United States or other Western countries. So finding a foreign-trained doctor locally will not be too difficult.

Health Insurance in Hong Kong

Options for healthcare coverage for the local population and expats does vary when it comes to public hospitals. We suggest you seek professional advice for which health insurance plan is best while living or working in Hong Kong.

Expats and Hong Kong nationals often use either local or international health insurance to offset the high medical cost.

Local Health Insurance plan in Hong Kong

Local health insurance premiums are calculated based on the current average medical cost and for an individual, and the premium is adjusted based on the number of claims filed. Local health insurance is only valid locally, so in order to be covered while outside of Hong Kong, one needs to purchase an additional travel insurance. Local health insurance does not guarantee renewal, meaning that your application can be rejected if your health condition changes.

Expat Medical Insurance plan in Hong Kong

International medical insurance is often more expensive, but, compared to local health insurance, expat medical insurance are more versatile and provides better coverage. Premiums are calculated from global medical inflation and for an individual. The premium is based on its age group and not affected by the amount of claims made. Unlike local health insurance, international health insurance is valid even when one travels outside Hong Kong, within its selected geographical range. Some insurers will guarantee lifetime renewal, meaning that you will be covered regardless of your health condition.

Work with an insurance broker

In searching for the ideal expat health insurance, one will quickly realize that there are many products out there catering to the many different needs of the expats. Choosing the right one can be very challenging, so it's wise to use the free services of an independent insurance broker.