Hong Kong is a city that is constantly on the move. Its unique culture and way of life are a result of its rich history and diversity, which has been shaped by its position as a global financial hub and a melting pot of cultures.
While public healthcare is very affordable in Hong Kong, private healthcare can be extremely expensive. That's why many expats prefer to buy private health insurance to help cover their medical costs. But how should one choose which health insurance plan is the right one for them? In this article, we'll walk you through the most common mistakes to avoid when choosing your health insurance.
In Hong Kong, public healthcare is accessible to anyone who is:
A Hong Kong ID card holder
A child under 11 years old with Hong Kong resident status
Any other persons approved by the Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority
Public healthcare is similar to private healthcare in Hong Kong in terms of the quality of medical services they provide. Both sectors have state-of-the-art facilities and capable doctors who are internationally trained and certified, making them capable of treating expats. In fact, public care is especially adept in emergency and maternal care, a service that private care is unable to compete with.
Most importantly, public care is affordable as it is run by the government and is therefore heavily subsidised. For example, inpatient costs can amount to HK$120 per day. Comparing this to the private sector, costs for the same inpatient admission can go up to HK$7,000 per day.
Apart from equal quality of healthcare delivered, the biggest downside to public care is the long waiting periods. Nonetheless, it is recommended to make use of public healthcare as much as possible.
When on a budget, the first thing people normally look for are the cheapest health insurance plans on the market. However, cheaper health insurance is not always better. For example, cheaper health insurance plans may come with lower annual limits, more limitations on the benefits you receive in the plan or even no international coverage. If you need coverage for several medical treatments, a cheaper health insurance plan with low coverage in terms of limit and benefits will not allow you to be fully covered. Most cheaper insurance plans are locally provided, but there are also affordable international plans that are suitable for expats.
Each individual has different needs in terms of health insurance, hence there is no one-size-fits-all option. It is essential that you are aware of your own needs and make wiser decisions when finding the right health insurance plan for yourself and your family. There are exceptional international health insurance plans in Hong Kong that offer fully customisable covers with fair pricing tailored to fit every individual’s needs (our MyHEALTH plan is one of them!). They may provide more value for money rather than buying an all-inclusive insurance with a high premium, which is not necessary for all individuals.
According to the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers' Medical Claims Statistics 2017, on average, one can make claims up to the annual benefit limit of HK$420,000. The annual limit applies to all medical expenses included in your health insurance plan according to the terms and conditions of your policy. However, it is relatively uncommon for someone to reach the limit of the annual limit within a year unless they frequently spend time in the intensive care unit or suffer from a severe illness like cancer. Nonetheless, no matter the amount of your annual limit, it is highly advisable to also pay attention to the sublimits that apply to the benefits of your health insurance plan.
When applying for health insurance, you'll typically be asked to complete a medical questionnaire and disclose your medical history. If you have pre-existing conditions, you may encounter waiting periods, and insurers might charge a higher premium in the form of a loading—an additional cost to account for increased risk. The loading amount is based on the number and severity of your pre-existing conditions; the more conditions or the more severe they are, the higher the premium.
Insurers may also limit your coverage by excluding your pre-existing condition from the plan or even decline your application if the condition is too severe to cover. With this in mind, some people might be tempted not to disclose their pre-existing conditions to avoid higher premiums; however, it's crucial to be transparent about your medical history. If it's discovered that you have undisclosed conditions, your claims could be rejected when you need them most, or the insurer might terminate your policy altogether.
Many expatriates are covered by a local health insurance plan provided by their employer. Local health insurance plans come with their own benefits, but as with any local health insurance plan, their benefits are similar or the same across all employees. This may be inconvenient for some as plans that are standardised for all employees may not necessarily be optimised for each employee. There may be areas where some employees require coverage but are not covered in their plan, which makes the lack of customisation a drawback to having a local plan. That's why topping up your local plan with international health insurance is recommended, as you can fully optimise your coverage and use your health insurance overseas.
In today's increasingly digitalised world, many things can be bought online, including health insurance. However, insurance, in general, can be complex, especially when you have no knowledge of it. Having an advisor to guide you and explain the benefits and overall terms of the plan can greatly help you in choosing a plan that best fits your needs. Hence, do not hesitate to contact our advisors to share your insurance needs and get assistance in building a plan around those needs.
Hong Kong is one of the world's most expensive cities to live in, along with other major Asian cities such as Tokyo, Seoul, and Singapore. The good news is that employees are compensated for this cost through relatively high salaries.
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