Cost of Healthcare in Hong Kong17 Feb, 2022
The Hong Kong healthcare system is ranked among the most expensive in the world. Thankfully, though, the city offers some of the best medical services along with English-speaking personnel in many facilities. If you recently moved to HK or are planning to travel to the region for work or leisure, it is important to understand how the healthcare system here works.
Medical services in HK are provided via the public health system (which is heavily funded by the government) or private hospitals where you can foot the cost of treatment via an individual or employer-provided health insurance policy.
Hong Kong Public Healthcare Costs
HK has an established public health care system that is administered by the Hospital Authority and the Department of Health, both of which fall under the jurisdiction of the FHB. The Hospital Authority (HA) manages all public hospitals in Hong Kong, including general outpatient facilities and special out-patient clinics. The Department of Health – on the other hand – is tasked with the general management of public health services such as maternity and child assessment clinics, social hygiene, dermatological clinics, student health service centers, and more.
Through intensive subsidies provided by the government, public hospitals in Hong Kong offer high quality of healthcare at virtually no cost to eligible persons (citizens of HK, permanent residents, and non-permanent residents who have a valid visa and Hong Kong ID card). Non-eligible persons can access public healthcare in HK but at a much higher cost. There are about 40 public hospitals in HK spread out over the city’s various districts to provide efficient medical care to all residents. The majority of medical services (including outpatient and inpatient treatments) are covered – with the exception of dental care. About 90 % of hospital medical services and 29% of outpatient care services are provided by the public hospital system in Hong Kong.
Typical medical fees for public healthcare in Hong Kong
Disadvantages of the public Hong Kong healthcare system
While the HK public healthcare system provides quality medical services to millions of the city’s residents, it is infamous for its long queues and non-personalized services. These are just the kind of drawbacks you’d expect of the public healthcare system in any country. There is also a higher possibility that your case will be handled by a non-English speaking staff, which can be a problem if you are a visitor or expat who hasn’t mastered Chinese yet.
Is healthcare free in Hong Kong?
The Hong Kong healthcare system has a fee waiving mechanism for those who cannot afford even the highly subsidized medical fees (in the public sector). Furthermore, patients suffering from certain diseases (which are specified by the International Health Regulations) and admitted in a public system may be exempted from any charges.
Hong Kong Private Healthcare Costs
There are about a dozen private healthcare facilities in HK. These are regulated by the Department of Health, which ensures that they comply with requirements by conducting inspections and addressing incidents or complaints. Since the cost of treatment in private clinics is very high, those who prefer this option may need to purchase health insurance. Many multinationals in HK purchase employer health coverage to make private healthcare available to their workers. Individual expats and HK residents can also get a private health insurance policy so they can seek treatment at a private facility of their choosing. The cost of healthcare in a private hospital will vary depending on the specific facility, and the type of medical treatment you need. Below are average cost ranges for outpatient consultation and common medical treatments.
Typical medical fees for private healthcare in HK
Advantages of private health coverage in HK
For those who can afford to buy medical insurance, the private healthcare system in HK is popular because it overcomes many of the drawbacks of the public system. You get to avoid the long queues characteristic of the public healthcare system, choose the hospital you want to receive treatment in, and select a doctor or specialist. Medical services in private hospitals tend to be timely and personalized in nature.
Private Health Insurance in Hong Kong
Medical insurance may be necessary for those who prefer to be treated in a private hospital. When it comes to the best medical insurance in Hong Kong, there is no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. The right policy may vary from one company to the other based on the specific needs of each policyholder. Keep in mind that medical insurance in Hong Kong may provide local or international coverage. If you are an expat, then you are best served by an international plan that covers medical treatment in all Asia (regional), or all countries outside Hong Kong (with the exception of the United States).
Cost of medical insurance in Hong Kong
The cost of medical insurance in HK will vary greatly depending on the specific policy options that you have selected.
Work with Quote Lion to get comparison quotes of different local and international health plans.
What is the Food and Health Bureau (FHB)?
The FHB is a government entity in HK that manages policies on food safety, environmental hygiene, food markets, agriculture and fisheries, animal welfare, primary healthcare, disease prevention, Chinese medicine, research and health data, burial, health advisor and appeals, professional health infrastructure, and other services. It is in charge of the Department of Health, Agriculture, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, Fisheries and Conservation Department, and Government Laboratory. The Hospital Authority (HA), which manages public health care services, reports to the secretary of the FHB.
Is healthcare accessible in HK?
Hong Kong’s healthcare system offers numerous public and private healthcare options accessible from different areas of the city. You may use public transport if necessary to get to your preferred clinic. If you are using the public healthcare system, it is important to take a prior appointment because services are in high demand. Both the public healthcare system and NGOs in the city provide timely ambulance services so that all residents get the care they need. If you need immediate attention, dial 999 to request emergency services (including EMS, police, and fire services).
Is medication accessible in HK?
Pharmaceutical products are easily accessible in HK via the numerous pharmacies located in the city. Medication is also available in public hospital pharmacies, where you pay no more than HKD $10. Private hospitals will provide access to medication but at typical prices. A few clinics and pharmacies offer traditional Chinese medicine, including medicinal herbs and Acupuncture.
What are the challenges of HK healthcare system?
The HK healthcare sector is not without its challenges. Common issues include elevated demand for services due to an aging population, an underdeveloped primary health care system, and staff shortages. This results in long waiting times in public hospitals. Many patients turn to the private hospital network in the city to bypass these challenges and receive timely, personalized care.
How much does it cost to see a doctor in Hong Kong?
Public hospitals in HK are highly subsidized by the government. General outpatient services cost only $50 per attendance. There’s also a fee waiving mechanism for those who are unable to afford even these low charges. Private hospitals are also available at normal charges. Most expats and residents who prefer private hospitals (which provide personalized care) purchase medical coverage to offset the high costs of treatment.
Cost of dental care in Hong Kong
Dentistry is one of the most respected professions in Hong Kong. The city has hundreds of highly qualified dental professionals, many of whom have been trained overseas and speak fluent English. Public healthcare in Hong Kong only provides dental emergency services such as tooth extraction and medication. Any other dental treatment must be obtained at a private hospital. You can expect to pay between $300 HKD and $500 HKD for simple fillings, and up to $500 HKD for a simple consultation. The cost of specialty dental services such as braces can range from braces $23,300 HKD to $35,000 HKD ($3,000 to $4,500 USD). If you have a private medical policy, check whether it covers all dental services. If not, you may need to purchase separate dental insurance.
Cost of Maternity Care in Hong Kong
The cost of maternity care in HK will vary based on the hospital where you receive care, the nature of your birth, and the duration of time you stay in a maternity ward. Typical costs range from about $20,000 HKD to $50,000 HKD ($2,500 to $6,500 USD). Caesarian birth costs in Hong Kong can average at around $62,000 HKD ($8,000 USD). Some facilities require deposits. If your existing medical insurance does not include maternity services, then it may make sense to purchase this coverage separately.
Note: if you don’t have insurance and cannot afford the high cost of care in private hospitals, the public hospital system in Hong Kong is an option because it is free. Costs of maternity care in the public health care sector can average at about $100 HKD ($13 USD) per day. Maternity services in the public system are pretty decent with a high quality of care provided to eligible residents.