Even though Hong Kong has a public healthcare system, it is more for emergency care than preventative care. Patients may have to wait for several hours before seeing a doctor if their case is deemed not critical when they go to a public hospital. Fortunately, residents of Hong Kong can see a doctor much more quickly for preventative care or minor emergencies if they have private health insurance.
Why Buy Insurance?
Even though the public system through the Hospital Authority or HK Department of Health provides medical care for eligible residents, it is not designed for routine doctor visits. If you’re not eligible to receive care through the public system, the charges for care can be very expensive. Also, private insurance provides other services which public healthcare may not.
Depending on the plan you buy, your insurance coverage may include the following:
- Prescription medicines
- Dental care
- Maternity care
- Coverage for traditional Chinese medicine
With the right insurance, you can customise the services for which you and your family will be covered.
Who Is an Eligible Person?
Under the public healthcare system, if you have a Hong Kong ID card, you can receive public healthcare even if you’re not a permanent resident. If you’re living there for work, you will need a valid visa and ID card to get care through the public healthcare system. Everyone age eleven and older living in Hong Kong must have an ID card.
If you would rather use the private healthcare system in the country, you will need to get health insurance in Hong Kong. Many corporate employers will provide insurance for their employees, but if they don’t provide coverage, there are several insurance companies from which you can purchase a plan. Even if you do have insurance through your employer, you still may want a private plan for additional coverage, as Hong Kong has some of the most expensive healthcare costs in the world.
Buying Private Insurance
The private insurance market is very competitive, so the costs can vary widely. This is why you need to shop around before settling on insurance coverage. When considering healthcare plans, ask the following questions:
- Can you choose your own doctor or does the plan require you to go to certain doctors and hospitals?
- Is preventative care coverage provided for you and your family?
- Are there discounts for family coverage?
- Does the insurance plan cover services like maternity care and dental care?
- Are pre-existing conditions covered?
- Does coverage include traditional Chinese medicine?
Before shopping for an insurance plan, consider the coverage you need, along with the needs of your family if you’re married and have children. The best plan will provide you with the coverage you need at a good price, so don’t look at just the cost of the plans you’re considering, but also what they provide.
Although Hong Kong does have a good healthcare system, you may want private insurance so that you don’t need to wait hours to see a doctor. A private plan can also supplement employer insurance in case it doesn’t provide coverage for dental care and other services.