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The stats on healthcare in Hong Kong are reassuring for expats living in or relocating to the country. Hong Kong boasts one of the healthiest – and happiest – populations in the world. In addition, Hong Kong’s residents have the second highest life expectancy in the world as well one of the lowest infant mortality rates. This is largely due to a fantastic healthcare system based on the government’s stated principle that “no one should be denied adequate healthcare through lack of means”.
Both the public and the private sector offer high-quality care and state-of-the-art medical equipment and Hong Kong is at the forefront of advances in medical technology. Many doctors are trained abroad and will be fluent in English. The island boasts 164 public hospitals and clinics which have two levels of fees – lower rates for eligible persons and higher rates for non-eligible persons. For example, a visit to A&E will set an eligible person back HK$100 whereas a non-eligible person will pay HK$990.
Some expats do not meet the Hong Kong medical care eligibility criteria which means that, while they can easily access treatment in the public sector, if they need hospital treatment for any reasons, without health insurance the fees could very soon mount up (for instance, just one day in intensive care will set a non-eligible person back HK$23,000). It is why expats based in Hong Kong should consider taking out health insurance in Hong Kong and consider whether they should elect for an international policy or a local one.
The big advantage of a local health insurance policy in Hong Kong is that it will be less expensive. Premiums are calculated using the current average medical cost and then adjusted to an individual based on the number of claims they have made on the policy. The healthier you are, the less you will pay. In addition, the health service is excellent and quick. In fact, often, people who are seriously ill are advised by their private doctors to access local care rather than go private.
There are some disadvantages to choosing a local policy however, and not just the poor quality of the food in the public hospitals! The first of these is that a local policy will not cover you outside of Hong Kong so if you travel frequently, for business or pleasure, you will certainly need a comprehensive travel policy to cover you abroad.
In addition, local health insurance in Hong Kong does not renew automatically – if the state of your health changes – for example if you get diagnosed with a long term medical condition such as diabetes or cancer – future applications could be rejected. If you take out an international health insurance policy once you are already diagnosed with a long term condition it will be more expensive. Some international policies – although not all – guarantee lifetime renewal and this is certainly something to discuss with your broker.
A third reason an international policy might suit you better is that it is transferable from country to country should you relocate from Hong Kong to somewhere else. For expats with a transient lifestyle, an international policy is undoubtedly better.
Finally, while public hospitals in Hong Kong do offer high-quality care, an international medical plan will still provide the insured with a greater choice of hospitals, doctors and medical treatments. Some will also offer repatriation and emergency evacuation.
There are a wealth of different health insurance policies available in Hong Kong to cater for the needs of expats. In addition, some people argue that it is a luxury rather than a necessity. To find out whether you would benefit from taking out private health insurance in Hong Kong, it is a good idea to seek advice. An independent insurance broker who has access to a wide range of products from different insurers can explain the differences to you and ensure that the choice you make is the correct one for your unique needs giving you and your family complete peace of mind.
If you would like to find out more about expat health insurance in Hong Kong or discuss any other insurance or financial planning issue get in touch today.