Healthcare in Hong Kong is top notch but also very expensive if you opt for private healthcare. Individual health insurance helps you cover healthcare expenses if you become ill or injured.
Unlike many popular expat destinations, Hong Kong has a well-established and low-cost healthcare system with private and public healthcare working in parallel. Anyone with a valid visa or ID card can access low-cost healthcare through Hong Kong’s public healthcare system. Unlike the public healthcare system in many other countries in the region, the quality is world-class with any doctors and nurses trained in the US and UK and speaking fluent English.
That said, despite the high quality and low cost of the public system, many prefer to seek treatment at private clinics and hospitals. One of the biggest downsides of the public healthcare system in Hong Kong is that it’s free or low-cost meaning you will frequently receive less-than-comfortable service and long wait times. For example, wait times for general surgery at the public Tuen Mun Hospital can be up to 30 weeks! Those that wish to avoid these downsides should opt for private healthcare.
Cost of Private Healthcare
One of the main downsides is the high cost of private healthcare in Hong Kong. For example, an MRI scan at a private institution in Hong Kong costs $12,580 HKD compared to just $2,560 HKD in the United Kingdom. Whereas a routine childbirth in the UK costs just $20,488 HKD, it can cost up to $60,340 HKD in Hong Kong at a private hospital.
Private healthcare in Hong Kong comes with undeniable benefits for those that can afford the high fees. Many expats and local professionals choose to purchase individual health insurance to help offset some of these high costs.
Individual Health Insurance in Hong Kong
There are a lot of options to help you customize your individual health insurance plan to your unique needs and specifications. Coverage can range from local to international and can insure against a range of things from inpatient coverage, outpatient, maternity coverage, alternative therapies, and dental care for routine and major treatments.
When to Buy Individual Health Insurance
The majority of expats and working professionals in Hong Kong will have health insurance provided by their employer. If you do not have coverage through your employer and prefer to access the private healthcare system, then individual health insurance is a must to help you cover the high medical costs of private care.
Even if you have coverage under your employer’s group health insurance plan, there are several reasons why you might still want to consider getting a standalone individual health insurance policy:
- High income earners may not get enough coverage under their employer’s plan.
- If you want additional coverage over and above what your employer provides, you can top up with an individual plan.
- If you quit or leave your job, your employer’s health insurance plan goes away as well. To ensure you are covered even when leaving the company, many choose to get an individual plan as back up.
How to Buy Individual Health Insurance
Buying health insurance is a relatively straightforward process. But here are some helpful individual health insurance tips for first-time buyers:
- Plans vary regarding treatments covered. For example, some will cover maternity and dental care while others do not. Pay attention to these things during contract negotiation.
- Pay attention to your deductibles and copays. Some plans require you to pay a deductible or will only cover a certain percentage of medical expenses.
- If you have an employer plan, consider what coverage they are providing and where you would like more coverage.
- Do you have free choice of doctors and hospital rooms or are they limited?
- Is TCM covered?
- Does the plan cover pre-existing conditions?
- Are health exams required?
- What are the limits and costs that this plan covers?
- Can I include my family in this plan?
There can be a lot to consider but you do not have to go through this process alone. I recommend working with a health insurance advisor in Hong Kong to help you determine your coverage needs and work with you to find the most comprehensive coverage for your budget.