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The Healthcare system in Hong Kong
How does the healthcare system work for expats in Hong Kong?
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.
If you are considering a move to Hong Kong, the good news is that healthcare is among the best in the world.
For the seven million people living in Hong Kong, life expectancy is 87 years for women and 81 years for men – the highest life expectancy in the world1.
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 164 public hospitals and clinics, plus 12 private hospitals in Hong Kong, overseen by the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong.2 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 $HK1,230.
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 eligibility and charges, visit the Hospital Authority website2.
For emergency ambulances, police and fire services, 999 can be dialled
The police can also be reached on: 2527-7177
Emergency ambulance hotline: 2735-3355
Fire department hotline: 2723-0066
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’s4 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 – Tai Wai
- Matilda International Hospital – The Peak
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.5
As with other parts of Asia, Hong Kong has high levels of pollution6. 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 public7 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)8 monitor health risks caused by air pollution and regularly update their index scores accordingly.
When the index is at a low to moderate level (1-6), you can continue to enjoy your usual activities as normal. When the category reaches a high level of (7), it’s advised that children, the elderly and those with heart or respiratory illnesses should reduce outdoor activities. At a 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.
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 may be a new experience for expats and it highlights how the Hong Kong government prioritises health for all its residents.
We have more articles in this guide that may be useful if you are planning a move to Hong Kong or you are currently a resident. Click here to find out more.
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.
- http://7 https://www.chp.gov.hk/files/pdf/use_mask_properly.pdf
- http://8 https://www.gov.hk/en/residents/environment/air/aqhi.htm