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How does the HK health system work & what insurance is necessary?

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  1. #1

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    Apr 2019
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    How does the HK health system work & what insurance is necessary?

    Hi guys, hope its the right forum (wasn't sure if its more insurance or health)

    so I'm just about to move to HK for a few years and was wondering what kind of insurance I do need.

    I'm a mid-20s male and don't have any medical preconditions, however in recent years I had a bit of dental issues, I probably needed roughly one filling a year.

    I'm confused what I would have to expect for HK...

    - I understand there is a public health system in HK that is accessible to non-permanent residents as well?
    - Do I understand it right that public health treatment in HK means you go to one of the big government-run hospitals (such as Queen Mary Hospital)?
    - Would I go to such a place just for medical check-ups, when having a sore-throat, fever or the likes, or would I always seek a private doctor/clinic for that? (In Germany you'll go to private doctors and they will receive their payment by the public health system)
    - How high are the fees at private doctors for some general check-ups and small treatments? I'm thinking if it's reasonable not to have a health insurance or only a very basic one and then pay for check-ups upfront and if there is a critical issue I can get free treatment at the hospital...
    - specifically on dental care: I had some x-rays taken and other stuff recently, is this crazily expensive, so I should cover it with insurance?

    If I'm getting an insurance, what is reasonable? I looked at Prudential's website, cause they have a calculator. I saw this "PRUmyhealth prestige medical plan" which I understand covers all doctor's visits, so which would be similar to what I had in Germany. But for my age they showed me 760HKD per month just for out-patient care (which I hopefully would never need), but almost 2000HKD per month including in-patient care and 2,5k also including dental stuff. I don't want to pay that much... On the other hand I saw an AXA "Smart Medicare" Plan which costs 180HKD a month for me and for which it says there is no benefit limit for in-patient stuff...

    Of course I'll see a broker, but as they are probably trying to talk me into getting the most expensive plan, I just wanted to get some input here at first, as the range of insurance premiums is so wide and I'm not sure what actually is sensible for me.


  2. #2

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    Do you know if your job will give you any private insurance? Or will you be self-employed? A lot of jobs provide private insurance as a benefit...

    mucaari likes this.

  3. #3

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    Public system: you show up, wait for 3 - 5 hours in a room full of old people, see a GP who will then refer you to a specialist. Waiting time for a Nose, Throat specialist is 26 - 88 weeks for non urgent cases. Waiting time for a Orthopaedics & Traumatology Specialist is up to 116 weeks. I was told I would have to wait over 50 weeks to get an CT for a broken foot, because it's not urgent.

    Go private if you can. Get various quotes from a broker. I can personally recommend CCW, they also advertise here. If you are young you only need in-patient care. Adding out-patient care and dental is expensive and not necessary imho. You probably won't be sick more than once a year if ever and most in-patient insurance plans cover emergency dental surgeries. A visit to a private clinic for something like the flu is ~$1000.


  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by MABinPengChau
    Do you know if your job will give you any private insurance? Or will you be self-employed? A lot of jobs provide private insurance as a benefit...
    I'll come as a PhD student, and there is a very basic health insurance I can subscribe to. However I feel their benefits are extremely low. For example 750HKD max per day for doctor's visit while treated in-patient at the hospital and 750HKD per day for the board&room. 3000HKD per day and 7 days max for intensive care.
    I feel if I really have a medical problem, this does not really protect me.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by mrgoodkat
    Public system: you show up, wait for 3 - 5 hours in a room full of old people, see a GP who will then refer you to a specialist. Waiting time for a Nose, Throat specialist is 26 - 88 weeks for non urgent cases. Waiting time for a Orthopaedics & Traumatology Specialist is up to 116 weeks. I was told I would have to wait over 50 weeks to get an CT for a broken foot, because it's not urgent.

    Go private if you can. Get various quotes from a broker. I can personally recommend CCW, they also advertise here. If you are young you only need in-patient care. Adding out-patient care and dental is expensive and not necessary imho. You probably won't be sick more than once a year if ever and most in-patient insurance plans cover emergency dental surgeries. A visit to a private clinic for something like the flu is ~$1000.
    Agreed. The actual level of care provided by doctors in public hospitals is actually alright. But the public health care system is way too overburdened and under-staffed. The delays are too long. The local doctors are rather protectionist in jealously guarding their "rice bowl" and is resistant to opening the local health care scene to foreign doctors. Currently, foreign doctors can only practiced in HK after passing a fiendishly difficult set of exams. Yet the two local medical schools at HKU and CUHK just can't provide enough fresh doctors to meet the demand.
    Private health care is much faster but a lot more expensive, unless you got insurance. Of course, health is more important than money (what good is all the money in the world when you are six feet under), so I rather spend the money to see a private doctor than wait for who-knows-how-long in a public hospital.
    Last edited by Coolboy; 16-07-2019 at 06:43 PM.
    mucaari and shri like this.

  6. #6

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    That looks like it will cover you for private payment at a government hospital, which let's you jump the queue but is still relatively affordable. It's not nearly enough for a private hospital. As a student you will end up paying more than in Germany, but if you were employed you would be able to purchase better private insurance for less than what the German government would deduct from your salary. My wife and I are paying less combined than what we each had deducted back in Germany. For way better care.

    mucaari likes this.

  7. #7

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    just in case, if your hospital visit may result in a court case, say a car accident, insurance will not help much, private hospitals will not treat cases involving legal action, so the public system is the only option.


  8. #8

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    Some of the universities (HKU, HKUST) have on-campus clinics for outpatient GP and some specialist consultations. Including dental it seems...if you are going to one of these and it looks like enough to get you through the average problems, then just getting in-patient coverage would be the way to go, and that would not be very expensive based on your age...

    HKUST on-campus clinic:

    HKUST - Safetywise


  9. #9

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    Your experience depends whether you are using the hospital for emergencies or not

    I used the A&E (emergency room) twice in Hong Kong. The first time was due to an infected ear. My friend told me to exaggerate the pain to jump the queue, I didn't so I had to wait several hours and just to be referred to see a specialist on another date. I think it was the next day or so. The treatment was spot on and I was happy to recover as it affected my ability to balance while walking.

    The second time I had severe pain and took an ambulance. I was seen right away and in and out of the hospital in under 2 hours including x-rays, treatment and medication. I believe the new cost was HK$190 or so.

    When you call an ambulance, you do not have a choice of which hospital you go to, so I believe they will go to the nearest public hospital. The cost is affordable.


  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by MABinPengChau
    Some of the universities (HKU, HKUST) have on-campus clinics for outpatient GP and some specialist consultations. Including dental it seems...if you are going to one of these and it looks like enough to get you through the average problems, then just getting in-patient coverage would be the way to go, and that would not be very expensive based on your age...

    HKUST on-campus clinic:

    HKUST - Safetywise
    Hmm I have a friend studying at CUHK till last semester. Said that they also have pretty long waiting times, or you just get appointments many weeks or months ahead and that they don't really take that much time for you(I heard that regarding dental stuff).

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