Deciding to move to a new country is a big step. It’s exciting to think about what an expat lifestyle might offer you and your family, alongside practical considerations such as how you will adapt, and what could happen if you or your family become ill.
We take a look at public and private healthcare in Hong Kong and how you can get the medical treatment you need as an expat living in Hong Kong.
Healthcare in Hong Kong
If you are considering a move to Hong Kong, the good news is that the healthcare system in Hong Kong is among the best in the world.
For the seven million people living in Hong Kong, life expectancy is 88 years for women and 82 years for men – the highest life expectancy in the world.
So, what can you expect from the healthcare system in Hong Kong, and what differences will expats find between the public and private services available?
The Hong Kong healthcare system
There are currently 165 public hospitals and clinics, plus 13 private hospitals in Hong Kong, overseen by the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong. There are also plenty of pharmacies, most of which are open seven days a week, with some operating 24hrs.
Hong Kong has a subsidised healthcare system which enables eligible citizens to pay less – an example of this can be seen if paying a visit to A&E, where eligible citizens pay around HK$180 per visit and non-eligible citizens can pay up to HK$1,230.
Eligibility is granted to those who hold a Hong Kong Identity Card, Hong Kong residents under 11 years of age, or those approved by the Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority.
To find out more about healthcare in Hong Kong for expats, including eligibility and charges, visit the Hospital Authority website.
Some important numbers and helplines in Hong Kong:
- For emergency ambulances, police and fire services – 999
- Non-emergency police hotline – 2527/7177
- Non-emergency fire service hotline – 2723-0066
- Non-emergency ambulance hotline – 2735-3355
Why you might need private healthcare in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of the most expensive countries in the world for private healthcare, because it is not regulated by the government.
Generally, the standard in public hospitals is high, but service levels can vary and long waiting lists are common in public hospitals.
Some employers may provide employment packages for expats that include healthcare cover. When they are available, the level of cover is largely determined by your grade or position. So, if your employer provides health care as part of your contract, make sure it covers the needs for you and your family.
If you don’t receive health cover as part of your employment package, you may want to consider health cover as part of your preparations ahead of moving to Hong Kong.
Where to find Hong Kong’s private hospitals
- Hong Kong Sanatorium Hospital – Happy Valley
- St. Teresa’s Hospital – Kowloon
- Hong Kong Baptist Hospital – Kowloon
- St. Paul’s Hospital – Causeway Bay
- Evangel Hospital – Kowloon
- Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Stubbs Road
- Hong Kong Adventist Hospital – Tsuen Wan
- Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital – Wong Chuk Hang
- Canossa Hospital – Mid-Levels
- Precious Blood Hospital – West Kowloon
- Union Hospital – Sha Tin
- Matilda International Hospital – The Peak
- CUHK Medical Centre – Sha Tin
Health risks to be aware of in Hong Kong
With a sub-tropical climate, Hong Kong has four very separate seasons – a warm and humid spring, a hot and rainy summer, a sunny autumn and a cool, dry winter. Temperatures can soar as high as 31 degrees Celsius in the summer, while typhoon season is generally from May through to November. Occasionally the Hong Kong Observatory will issue typhoon warnings advising you stay indoors.
As with other parts of Asia, Hong Kong has high levels of pollution. Combined with its densely-packed population, this can aggravate symptoms for expats with asthma and chronic respiratory diseases. Children, the elderly, and those with vulnerable immune systems, are generally most affected.
The Hong Kong Government is working hard to reduce air pollution, by advising residents to reduce energy consumption at home and save money at the same time. This can also help to reduce air pollution created by power stations.
People are advised to wear a face mask in public whenever:
- They have a respiratory infection
- They need to care for a person with respiratory infection
- When they are visiting clinics or hospitals during a pandemic or peak season for influenza in order to reduce the risk of spreading the infection
The Hong Kong Government Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) monitor health risks caused by air pollution and regularly update their index scores accordingly.
- Low to moderate level (1-6) – you can continue to enjoy your usual activities as normal
- High level (7) – it’s advised that children, the elderly and those with heart or respiratory illnesses should reduce outdoor activities
- Very high level (8-10+) – the general public are warned to reduce their time outside
Hong Kong residents are proactive about how they manage germ control, particularly with a large population in a confined space. Reporting and prevention procedures for germ control are particularly robust and ‘sanitation stations’ are common features in buildings throughout Hong Kong.
Healthcare in Hong Kong for expats
Planning ahead is key
If you are planning a move to Hong Kong or are currently a resident, make sure you understand how the healthcare system works and how you and your family can access it.
Healthcare in Hong Kong is much more visible than most other places in the world, from wearing a mask to prevent the spread of flu to sanitation stations in buildings. This highlights how the Hong Kong government prioritises health for all its residents.
In Hong Kong, where tradition and modernity coexist, herbal remedies and acupuncture are not considered as alternative medicine but are recognised and regulated by the State.
In total, more than a fifth of medical consultations are carried out by Chinese medicine practitioners. Traditional herbal remedies, such as ephedra, are available in Hong Kong pharmacies alongside Western medicine, even though they are banned in other parts of the world.
Before you go…
If you’re considering choosing international health insurance, William Russell would be happy to offer you advice and a quote to help you decide. For 30 years, we have helped expats like you move and settle into their new lives overseas, with the peace of mind of knowing their families are covered by a comprehensive and flexible health insurance policy.
Speak to us today to find out more about how global health insurance could benefit you and your family.
Looking for expat health insurance before your move to Hong Kong?Learn more about our plans
The information provided in this article is designed as a guide and reference point to what you might expect in Hong Kong. Please be sure to check any information with local Hong Kong authorities to ensure information is valid and timely.