Hong Kong has a well-developed public health care system, and if a permanent resident has a valid visa and identity card, they can use the health system for free or at little cost. But because of the structural problems of the public sector, more often than not the only alternative is to use the private sector, which is very expensive if you do not have individual health insurance.
Health insurance for expats in Hong Kong
How does the healthcare system work in Hong Kong?
Based on the British model, Hong Kong's system offers all its citizens and permanent residents free and almost universal access to health care, specifically, everything that the public sector offers.
However, this sector has been experiencing structural problems for several years. Spurred by higher salaries, the majority of the country's health professionals prefer to work in the private sector, to the detriment of public hospitals, which are consequently understaffed and overcrowded. The system also has its limitations―dentistry, for example, is not included.
Invariably, to get faster access to treatment and to avoid long wait times, the only alternative is to turn to the private sector, even though the care it provides is not covered by the social security system and is extremely expensive.
How to choose health insurance in Hong Kong: local or international?
This precarious situation has resulted in a large number of citizens and residents in Hong Kong taking out private health insurance. Additionally, more and more local employers are offering this benefit to their employees.
Be careful, however, as the coverage of local insurers' health policies is often limited. Many come with significant deductibles, limits on coverage and frustrating wait periods. The conditions of coverage for beneficiaries also vary greatly from one insurer to another.
Another option is to take out international health insurance. Usually, this is more advantageous as it can offer a higher level of coverage than that offered by Hong Kong insurers, as well as many other benefits (depending on the policy taken out).