Medical Insurance in Hong Kong – 4 Things you Need to Know

by | May 11, 2021 | 10 comments

Along with finding the right school, getting medical insurance in Hong Kong belongs on the top of your list of priorities. 

As a savvy person, you probably think that going on a hunt for insurance yourself is the most effective option, but using an insurance broker will save you time and a whole lot of hassle. 

After many different experiences looking for ways to get access to reliable information about health insurance, we were introduced to Charings – an independent insuranace broker that works with Hong Kong residents and foreigners to find the Hong Kong medical insurance they need. 

Got questions about getting medical insurance cover in the city? We’re going to give you the full lowdown on:

  • The local healthcare in Hong Kong
  • Your private healthcare insurance options
  • How to find affordable medical insurance
  • Why healthcare cover is so important

I cannot wait to share this sponsored post with you! When my own personal insurance broker Litai Wai asked me to team up and share our combined knowledge on medical insurance with you, I was excited because I knew that it could help people. 

Got some tips or personal experiences you’d like to share on medical insurance in Hong Kong? Please leave them in the comments below.

Does Hong Kong have free public healthcare?

In Hong Kong, the public healthcare system is free but waiting lists are long. You might want to consider medical insurance.

Hong Kong has a well-established public healthcare system, ranked the most efficient globally by Bloomberg before the COVID-19 pandemic, and still the second-best across the globe in 2020. 

As long as you have a valid Hong Kong ID card, you’re eligible for the heavily subsidized rates at public hospitals. Anyone with permission to stay over 6 months will have an HKID.

Good as the public health system is, hospitals are always busy. This means there’ll be long waits involved, and if you’re triaged as non-urgent, you could face many weeks (or potentially even months) waiting to be seen or get treatment. 

The very cheap access to public hospitals in Hong Kong can easily be topped up with local or global health insurance for you and your family. 

What is private health insurance, and why do I need it?

In terms of medical insurance in Hong Kong, public healthcare is available but waiting times can be very long.

Wherever you’ve lived before Hong Kong, odds are the country had a mix of public and private healthcare systems. 

It’s the same in Hong Kong, with 43 government-run hospitals and a range of clinics supporting their work. There are 13 hospitals and hundreds of clinics in the private sector, all of which are registered and regulated by the Hong Kong Department of Health.  

To access the private hospitals, you can just walk in and pay upfront for everything you need, but if you’ve got any experience with hospital bills in Hong Kong you’ll know they’re more than a little pricey. 

Private health insurance can help to cover all or some of your hospital bills, follow-up procedures, and outpatient appointments.  Not sure if you need medical insurance? Let’s look at the pros and cons of private health insurance.

Pros of having private health insurance in Hong Kong

  • Waiting times are shorter for private hospitals and clinics
  • You’ll likely be covered for a private room rather than be in a wardroom for overnight stays
  • You’re not taking up space in the public healthcare system that others may need

Cons of having private health insurance in Hong Kong

  • You have to pay monthly or annual premiums to maintain your coverage
  • Claims may require more paperwork than if you access a public hospital

Where can I find affordable health insurance?

Buying insurance in Hong Kong is super expensive, before you commit to it, consider if public healthcare is an option.

With the myriad health insurance providers all offering varied coverage depending on your circumstances, shopping around gets stressful. 

The time and headaches you save yourself by using an insurance broker are well worth it. You don’t pay them upfront fees; rather, your broker is paid by the company you ultimately take the policy with. 

To get a good range of policy options for local and global medical insurance in Hong Kong, Charings is our broker of choice

They have access to some of the top names in expat health insurance, such as Cigna and BUPA in Hong Kong, and have a personable and friendly service. 

Want to find out more? Contact Litai from Charings – we’ve only ever experienced the best quality service from Litai. 

When do I need health insurance?

Buying Insurance in Hong Kong

Health and medical insurance can come in handy in lots of different circumstances. In Hong Kong, if you want to get seen faster than in the public system, insurance will get you seen. 

Life is full of unexpected moments – think about the last time you needed to see a doctor? Common reasons you or your family might need medical treatment include: 

  • An accident in the home like a kitchen burn or a bathroom fall
  • Common surgeries for conditions like appendicitis
  • Childhood illnesses like chickenpox, chest infections, or ear infections
  • New complicated health issues such as organ problems or cancer

These things can get expensive quickly, with medicines and nights in hospital racking up bills that can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more!). 

Types of Hong Kong health insurance 

Through Charings, you can access a range of different Hong Kong medical insurance policies. They work with policies specifically for Hong Kong citizens and residents and policies that cover expats and Hong Kongers worldwide. 

Along with global health insurance policies, you can discuss policies that are part of the new Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme (VHIS) as long as you are a Hong Kong resident. This insurance provides basic coverage that is also tax-deductible. 

Employer vs. private health insurance

Whilst the policy that your employer offers may be decent and may cover lots of things you’ll need, there are still reasons to investigate private health insurance. 

Here are some possible reasons for considering a full insurance package in Hong Kong:

  • Getting your partner and kids on the same level of cover as yourself 
  • Getting insurance coverage on overseas trips
  • Being able to transfer medical insurance to a new country can be important
  • Getting the highest level of cover possible can be essential
  • There’s a chance that a change of jobs would create problems with ongoing treatment  

With all of these thoughts bouncing around, it becomes clear that employer insurance is great, but it may not have everything. 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular health and medical insurance in Hong Kong. You can choose from others – chat with Charings about your options if you have specific requirements. 

Global health insurance – Private international medical insurance

Policies that cover expats and their families in Hong Kong and further afield are known as private international medical insurance, or PIMI. 

These policies are extensive and generally cover higher medical bills than policies designed for Hong Kongers. Note that these global PIMI policies aren’t classed as VHIS and thus are not tax-deductible. 

April International – MyHealth Extensive Plan

Policy highlights

  • Global coverage except for the USA – can transfer to other countries if you move on from Hong Kong.
  • Full cover for a range of emergency medical expenses
  • Congenital issues are covered up to US$100,000 over the life of the policy
  • A generous annual cap of US$2.5 million

What you should know:

  • You’re capped at US$100,000 in the first 30 days for USA emergency medical

April international/ GlobalHealth – MyHealth Essential Plan

Policy highlights

  • You’re fully covered for hospital admissions, ambulances, and all your diagnostic tests. 
  • The cover is global, excluding the USA, so you can take your cover with you when you leave.
  • Up to US$50k is covered for organ transplants or kidney dialysis
  • The payouts each year are capped at US$1.5 million

What you should know:

  • Pregnancy complications and congenital issues aren’t covered at all in the policy.

Cigna Health Insurance – Sigma Elite 

Policy highlights

  • Full cover for private rooms, all hospital fees, and testing is included
  • Emergency treatment within the USA is covered
  • Coverage has a cap of HK$23.8 million, which is roughly US$3 million
  • All coverage is in HKD, so you’re not having to consider exchange rates when looking at your maximum payouts

What you should know:

  • The cover is limited to Asia, rather than global

Want to find out more? Contact Litai from Charings – when we’ve asked for a quote, Litai responded very quickly. 

Medical insurance for Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, there are a variety of different medical insurance providers to chose from.

This type of insurance is specifically for Hong Kong residents and is generally cheaper than international health insurance. Some local medical insurance policies qualify as VHIS; check with Charings and ask them what this can mean for you. 

These policies aren’t transferable outside of the territory, so they are usually better suited to people who are permanently settled here. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular medical insurance policies in Hong Kong. 

Bupa Hong Kong – My Basic Plan 

Policy highlights

  • A simple plan that should work for basic medical needs and surgery
  • Inpatient and outpatient needs are covered to reasonable limits
  • Up to six months of inpatient fees are covered, with some maximums
  • Eligible for tax deductions through VHIS

What you should know:

  • The limits and caps for charges – they’re pretty generous but can still mount up.

Bupa health insurance – MyFlexi Plan 

Medical insurance is an important consideration when you live in Hong Kong.

Policy highlights

  • Coverage for inpatient fees extends to up to nine months
  • Enhanced benefits include private nursing, having someone stay with you in hospital, and emergency outpatients
  • Up to 20 acupuncture appointments a year are included
  • It falls under VHIS, so it will be eligible for a tax deduction

What you should know:

  • The limits to coverage in terms of price and timeframes, you’ll need to check your total costs during and treatments.

Cigna Global Health Insurance – Semi-Private

Policy highlights

  • A generous annual limit of $30 million
  • Full coverage for a range of needs, including inpatients, surgery, and diagnostic testing
  • Family can stay with children under 18 in hospital will full cover
  • Visits to the emergency room are included in the cover

What you should know:

  • Hospital stays are covered for semi-private rooms only

Want to find out more? Contact Litai from Charings – this is the independent insurance broker we personally use.  

What type of health insurance is best for me?

Every person and every family is different, so the best coverage – international health insurance or a local Hong Kong policy – will be down to your circumstances. 

Even if you’ve had expat health insurance before, you still need to take stock of your current situation. Consider things like: 

  • Do you plan on settling in Hong Kong long-term, or do you want transferable insurance?
  • Are you happy to pay for things like optical and dental expenses?
  • Will you be expanding your family during your time in Hong Kong? 
  • Can you afford a deductible or co-pay? 

This is the type of information that can help guide your conversation with an insurance broker. 

On their part, they won’t give you advice about which policy is best; rather, they’ll give you all the facts and information about your options so you can make an informed choice.

Why buy medical insurance from Charings? 

International health insurance can be a tricky market to understand. There can be lots of caveats in policies and wording that could be open to interpretation. 

Using Charings as your insurance broker will get you a personalized quote and a real human being to ask questions of.

Communication is important when you’re spending big money on a policy that your life could one day depend on. We’ve found Charings to be really easy to chat with – did you know that you can get an insurance quote through WhatsApp?

Medical Insurance in Hong Kong FAQs

Insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. The government does a good job keeping things in line, both in terms of hospital standards – some of the best in the world – and making sure policies are fit for purpose. 

You probably still have some questions, though, so here are the ones we get a lot.

Is healthcare in Hong Kong free?

Healthcare is only free in Hong Kong for Hong Kong citizens that receive social security. Everyone else who is a resident, meaning if you’ve got a Hong Kong ID card, has the right to access heavily subsidized public healthcare. 

I have a chronic condition; what types of health insurance are best for me?

You’ll already be more than aware that coverage for pre-existing medical problems is rare. Chronic conditions are generally not covered because of their high, long-term costs to insurers. You may still be able to find coverage for emergencies or medical issues unrelated to your chronic condition and consider using public hospitals for things you’re not covered for. Chat with Charings to see what your options are in your particular circumstances. 

How much is health insurance in Hong Kong?

The price of health insurance in Hong Kong will depend on a lot of factors. You’ll already know that insurance companies will factor in details such as:
– Your age
– Whether you smoke or drink
– Pre-existing medical conditions
– The size of your family
– Which can all make a difference to the cost of health insurance. 
For the best answer to this question, you can get a free, no-obligation quote from Charings that will consider all the vital details. 

 

Finally

Getting your new life in Hong Kong set up means taking care of a million and one things. 

We’ve extolled the virtues of bringing in experts such as virtual personal assistants to help you – your time is usually worth more than it would cost you to do things!

This is as true with finding medical insurance in Hong Kong as it is with anything from booking your travel to organizing and rejuvenating your wardrobe

Bringing in Charings to present you with the best medical insurance options to choose from will make your life easier, and there’s no extra cost – they’re paid by the insurance company directly. 

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10 Comments

  1. Sarah

    Litai’s energy is great and he tells you the real deal – no up-selling for things you don’t need! He’s down to earth and helps you understand what you are getting.

    Reply
    • SavvyinHK

      hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your experience!

      Reply
  2. Anne

    I have used Litai to buy insurance products before and I was impressed with the advice he provided and also the speed of his answers – very genuine and helpful guy.

    Reply
    • SavvyinHK

      Hi Anne, we are delighted to hear that you feel the same way about Litai as us!

      Reply
  3. Charu Surtani

    Litai is very informative when it comes to insurance policy for medical or travel or it is to be with any insurance policy. I was very impressed when he mentioned so much about how travel insurance is working these days it can convince clients to buy policy by showing how beneficial policy can be to them for smaller amount of money spend. I highly recommend Litai for his insurance policy’s.

    Reply
    • SavvyinHK

      Hi Charu – thanks for sharing your personal experience!

      Reply
  4. Nathan King

    I use Litai for my insurance needs and he is so easy to work with and always has your back which I think is extremely rare in the insurance world.
    I had a water leak in my photo studio and helped me get everything damaged, covered so I could get it replaced. Thanks Litai!

    Reply
    • SavvyinHK

      Hi Nathan – thanks so much for sharing your experience! We found Litai trustworthy too!

      Reply
  5. Vannessa

    Good to see Litai sharing his wisdom here! Thanks for making our transition over to you easy and friendly. Insurance is not always an easy field to manoeuvre. A big thank you for being there to help us move over to Charings.

    Reply
    • SavvyinHK

      Vanessa – thank you for sharing your experience!

      Reply

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