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The healthcare system in Hong Kong

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When moving to a foreign country, it is natural to have queries regarding that country’s healthcare system. Luckily, in the case of Hong Kong, you will have access to one of the world’s best medical facilities and English-speaking medical personnel. The city has many modern hospitals with highly qualified and skilled doctors having received training in prestigious schools.

Hong Kong’s healthcare system is divided into two main sectors: public healthcare and private healthcare.

Public health care system

Hong Kong offers public healthcare insurance to its citizens, permanent and non-permanent residents at no cost. This means, that as long as you have a valid long-term visa and a Hong Kong ID card, you can rely on public healthcare. The public healthcare system consists of hospitals, general clinics, as well as other specialised clinics. To date, more than 40 public hospitals remain easily accessible to residents and non-residents, all of them conveniently available in each city district. The public healthcare system covers most of the common medical services, with the exception of dental care — for that Hollywood smile you will need to seek a doctor in the private sector.

The main drawbacks of public hospitals in Hong Kong as similar to those in any other country: expect long queues, occasionally brisk service and the possibility of non-English-speaking staff.

Private health care system

The expatriate community in Hong Kong is generally keener on the private healthcare system. Indeed, the private healthcare system is deemed to provide more comfort and intimacy to patients, even though the quality of medical care in a public facility is by no means poorer.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most expensive cities in terms of medical care and paying high doctor bills on your own is not an option for many. That’s why getting health insurance for the length of your stay in the city is essential. If you work for a big company in Hong Kong, you should generally have a health insurance plan in place. However, depending on coverage, you may want to complement it with additional services if the plan does not cover everything you consider necessary.

If you do not have employer-sponsored health insurance, consider acquiring one on your own or getting international health insurance, which is easily transferable in Hong Kong.

Access to healthcare

Both public and private healthcare services are easily accessible, even by public transport. However, you are advised to take an appointment in advance, especially when it comes to the public healthcare system where services are in high demand. In case of emergency, services provided by the staff are really worthwhile.

In case of need, the public healthcare system, as well as NGOs also provides ambulances. Note that you can request emergency services (police, fire services and ambulance) by dialing 999.

Fees

Fees in the city’s public hospitals are very low, provided you have a Hong Kong ID. Services for those without a local ID are offered at a higher price. A large number of services are free or come at highly discounted prices. To visit a public outpatient clinic for a consult, you will need to pay HKD$100 and staying in a regular ward cost around HKD$100 a day.

Private healthcare services are significantly more expensive with the prices varying greatly between different institutions and the services offered. Expect additional charges to the announced price.

  Important:

Fees in public hospitals have to be paid in cash only.

Medication

You should have no problem finding necessary medication in Hong Kong’s pharmacies including prescription medication. However, your familiar medication may be sold under a different name — make sure you have the name of the main acting agent and show it to the pharmacist. You can receive prescribed medication at the hospital directly — at a public hospital you will typically pay no more than HKD$10, while private hospitals will charge you the full price. To check whether the medication you require is available in Hong Kong, refer to the list of registered pharmaceutical products in Hong Kong.

Some clinics and pharmacies also provide traditional Chinese health care, including acupuncture, medicinal herbs, etc..

 Useful links:

Department of Health
Hong Kong Hospital Authority
Department of Health – List of private hospitals in Hong Kong
Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
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