Healthcare in Hong Kong

The healthcare system in Hong Kong
Updated 2023-01-15 12:13

As an expat, it can be overwhelming to navigate a new healthcare system in a foreign country. This is why we've prepared this guide. Here, you will find useful information and resources to help you feel more confident and prepared when it comes to healthcare in Hong Kong. We will cover topics such as finding a healthcare provider, accessing medical services, and understanding the healthcare system in Hong Kong.  

Whether you are new to Hong Kong or have been living here for a while, we hope this guide will be a helpful resource as you navigate the healthcare landscape in this vibrant and dynamic city.

Healthcare system in Hong Kong: the basics

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 in Hong Kong

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 specialized 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 obvious pro of using Hong Kong's public healthcare system is that you can receive high-quality care — basically free of charge. What's more, a lot of doctors and other members of staff in Hong Kong public hospitals speak English. Public hospitals in Hong Kong also have quality maternity care.

The downsides of public healthcare in Hong Kong are probably similar to those of most other countries. The waiting times are generally long, and you will probably receive very straightforward service and less attention and comfort than you might in a private facility.

Private health care system in Hong Kong

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.

The main benefits of using private healthcare in Hong Kong are the shorter wait times and a wider range of available services.

Some of the biggest private hospitals in Hong Kong include:

  • Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital in Happy Valley. The hospital offers a full range of medical services, including internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, and rehabilitation.
  • Union Hospital in Tai Wai. This is a fully-equipped facility that offers a wide range of medical services, including surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and pediatrics.
  • Hong Kong Adventist Hospital in Stubbs Road. This is a non-profit, Christian-based facility that offers a wide range of medical services such as surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics.
  • Matilda International Hospital in The Peak. Here you will be able to access a variety of medical services, from surgery, obstetrics and gynecology to internal medicine and pediatrics.
  • Canossa Hospital in Shatin. This is another large private hospital in Hong Kong offering medical services in surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, and pediatrics.

While these are some of the biggest private hospitals in Hong Kong, the list above is by no means exhaustive. There are lots more private medical facilities in Hong Kong

that offer high-quality medical care to patients. It is always a good idea to research and compare the services and facilities offered by different hospitals before making a decision about where to receive medical treatment. You can also consult fellow expats in groups like Expats in Hong Kong and others.

Health insurance in Hong Kong

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. Some of the leading health insurance providers are:

Feel free to contact them for a free quote.

Things to consider when choosing your health insurance package

Here are some important points to take into consideration when choosing the right health insurance package:

  • Does it require co-payments?
  • Will it provide coverage to your family members?
  • What hospitals are covered under the plan?
  • Will you be able to pick your specialists?
  • What extras (if any) are covered under the plan (dental, maternity, etc.)?
  • What is the policy on pre-existing conditions?
  • Will you need to pay the hospital bill first and file a claim with your insurance provider?

Access to healthcare in Hong Kong

Both public and private healthcare services are easily accessible, even by public transport. However, you are advised to make 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 provide ambulances. Note that you can request emergency services (police, fire services and ambulance) by dialing 999.

The costs of healthcare in Hong Kong

Fees in the city's public hospitals are relatively 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 HK$100, and staying in a regular ward costs around HK$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.

For instance, a specialist consultation at Hong Kong Union Hospital will cost anywhere from HK$700 to HK$2,000. You can get a general idea of price ranges for medical services at the hospital here.

Pharmacies and medications in Hong Kong

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. So, you will need to make sure you have the name of the principal acting agent and show it to the pharmacist.

You can also receive prescribed medication at the hospital directly. At a public hospital, you will typically pay no more than HK$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.

Mental healthcare in Hong Kong

Moving to a new country is never easy. And Hong Kong can be a particularly stressful place to live: it's new, fast-paced, and concentrated. If you are dealing with pre-existing mental health issues or are experiencing move-related stress, here are just a few organizations that may be helpful:

ReSource Counseling Centre, a multicultural counseling center offering confidential counseling in English, Cantonese, Traditional Chinese, Russian, Hindi — and other languages.

OCD & Anxiety Support Hong Kong, a non-profit organization offering support to those suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Anxiety Disorders and Depression by providing a safe and free space to discuss their fears.

Hospital Authority – If you are suffering from depression, an eating disorder, or any other condition that requires medical assistance, you can receive timely help by visiting a public hospital in your area. You can call the 2300 6555 hotline to be referred to a specialist.

How to find a doctor in Hong Kong

There are several ways to go about finding a specialist in Hong Kong.

First, you can contact a public hospital or the private hospital covered under your insurance plan.

Second, you can use an online directory, which makes the search even easier. Check Primary Care Directory, The Medical Council of Hong Kong, and others. Such directories generally let you set specific filters for your search, and you will be able to look for family doctors, specialists, doctors practicing traditional Chinese medicine, etc.

You can also ask fellow expats for recommendations on the best medical practitioners in your area.

Dental care in Hong Kong

As we've already mentioned above, Hong Kong has generally high-quality public healthcare. However, this doesn't include dental care. In Hong Kong public hospitals, you will only be able to receive emergency dental care.

So, if you require dental treatments, you will need to explore the private sector. There are a lot of private dental clinics in Hong Kong, so you will have no shortage of choices. With that, if you are overwhelmed by so many choices, you can always refer to the online directory of the Hong Kong Dental Association. Another option is, once again, consulting fellow expats on which dental clinics they recommend in your area.

Most private dental clinics in Hong Kong offer a full range of services: from standard procedures to cosmetic dental surgery. The costs for dental services vary greatly, depending on the clinics and doctor you choose. Make sure to inquire in advance about the price of services you are coming in for. In most dental clinics, you can expect to pay from HK$500 to HK$1,000 for a consultation.

The best way to approach dental care in Hong Kong is to purchase a healthcare insurance plan that covers dental services. You should also ask your employer if they can provide you with a comprehensive healthcare plan that includes dental care.

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.