Hong Kong is a great city to base your business or live in as an expat. The city is commonly referred to as the gateway to Asia and is a perfect blend of the east and west. More importantly, it has a highly developed medical infrastructure with both a private and public system. Many expats prefer the private system but the cost of private medical treatment in Hong Kong is a concern – especially when it comes to outpatient treatments.
The Mixed Economy Healthcare System in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is considered a mixed economy system in that there are private hospitals operating alongside public ones. In total, there are 11 private hospitals and 42 public ones. The public healthcare system is subsidized by the government and offers free or low cost in and outpatient treatment to all residents with a valid ID card. The Department of Health estimates that the public system provides over 90% of all inpatient and 30% of all outpatient services. Because of this, wait times can be long and the service is not as comfortable. But despite these shortcomings it is effective, life expectancy in Hong Kong is one of the highest in the world and infant and maternal mortality is among the lowest.
The 11 private hospitals in Hong Kong are all partnered with the UK for international healthcare accreditation and have internationally trained doctors and staff. They also often offer better equipment, shorter wait times, more luxurious accommodations, a more consistent staff, and more English-speaking doctors. For these reasons, many expats prefer the private medical system.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
Inpatient treatment refers to any treatment you receive including surgery and drugs taken inside the hospital or treatments that require you to be hospitalized for at least 24 hours. Outpatient treatment refers to treatments taken at home or that don’t require a hospital stay. Common examples of outpatient treatments include dialysis or chemotherapy.
Cost of Private Medical Treatment in Hong Kong – Outpatient Treatment
For all its advantages, the cost of private medical treatment in Hong Kong is the 2nd highest in the world behind the US. A single visit to a general practitioner would cost between $250-$1000 HKD, childbirth could be between $100,000-$450,000 HKD and an outpatient appointment could cost you more than $1000 HKD.
These costs can run up quickly especially when it comes to more serious illnesses like cancer which is mainly treated as outpatient. For example, the Hong Kong Baptist Hospital charges $1000-2000 HKD for the first consultation and $300-$1000 HKD plus treatment costs for each follow-up appointment. In total, a 7-day course of cancer treatments at Baptist Hospital can cost as much as $160,000 HKD!
How Health Insurance can Help Offset Costs
Expats seeking private healthcare treatment in Hong Kong can use health insurance to help offset some costs but not all policies are created equal. Many cheaper sub-limit plans will cover inpatient treatments but not outpatient. Speak with a Trusted Union representative to discuss your policy and see which one might be right for you.