Medical Insurance in Hong Kong – 8 Tips You Need to Know

by | Sep 12, 2021 | 12 comments

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

Trying to figure out your best options for purchasing medical insurance can be overwhelming; that’s why we cover the 8 most important tips you should know about buying medical insurance in this article.  

8 most important tips about buying medical insurance in Hong Kong

Got questions about getting medical insurance cover in the city? Here are the 8 most important tips related to buying healthcare insurance. 

  • Understand the public healthcare in Hong Kong
  • Understand the pros and cons of private healthcare insurance  
  • Use an insurance broker
  • Know the best expat insurance policies
  • Ask yourself these questions before buying medical insurance
  • Consider VHIS medical insurance policies – to get a tax rebate
  • Consider if you need to buy additional health insurance if you already have insurance from your employer
  • Understand the importance of understanding the details of an insurance policy

But first, let’s dive in and answer one of the most commonly asked questions about medical insurance in Hong Kong. 

Which is the best medical insurance in HK?

Popular insurance providers that offer medical insurance in Hong Kong are:

  • BUPA
  • Cigna
  • AXA

Each of these insurance providers has its own pros and cons. Therefore, before purchasing medical insurance, we recommend you speak with an insurance broker so they can understand your individual needs properly before giving you independent advice. 

We personally like Charings, an independent insurance broker that works with Hong Kong residents and foreigners to find the Hong Kong medical insurance they need. Litai is never pushy and gives practical and useful advice!

Understand the Hong Kong public healthcare; free but wait times can be long 

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 was still the second-best globally 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. 

The pros and cons of having private health insurance in Hong Kong

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. In addition, 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 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

Buy medical insurance from a medical insurance broker

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

Medical 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. 

If you use an experienced insurance broker, you will get a personalized quote and discuss your personal details with someone. However, shopping around gets stressful with the huge number of health insurance providers, all offering varied coverage depending on your circumstances. 

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?

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The best expat health insurance in Hong Kong

If you’re an expat in Hong Kong, first, you’ll need to consider whether you need worldwide medical coverage. If you typically travel frequently for work, an international medical insurance policy can give you coverage even when you’re abroad.

Next, you’ll need to consider the type of coverage that will work best for you. For example, you need to consider any pre-existing conditions, your age, and also if you would like vision and dental coverage. 

In Hong Kong, popular health insurance policies include BUPA, CIGNA, AXA, and Liberty Insurance. 

The key questions you should ask yourself before purchasing health insurance in HK

Every person and 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. 

Some local medical insurance policies quality as VHIS – which will enable you can enjoy a tax reduction

If you purchase a medical insurance policy that qualifies for VHIS (voluntary health insurance scheme), you will be able to claim a tax deduction for qualifying premiums – up to HK$8,000 per insured person each year. Some local medical insurance policies that qualify as VHIS include Bupa Hero VHIS Plan and Bupa MyFlexi VHIS Plan.

These policies aren’t transferable outside of the territory, so they are usually better suited to permanently settled people. Again, check with Charings and ask them what this can mean for you. 

You may want to consider separate medical insurance even if you receive insurance via your employee

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 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.  

Take the time to understand the complete details of your medical insurance policy

What the insurance policy covers is a huge factor; you need to closely look at pre-existing conditions, pregnancy coverage, and congenital issues. 

Medical insurance policies can differ in other ways too. For example, some plans will have deductibles – the amount a policy holder has to pay before an insurance provider will pay for any of the expenses. Some medical insurance policies may require copayment – this is typically a small amount of money that the patient must pay. 

To illustrate how different health insurance policies can differ, take an overview of some popular policies available in Hong Kong.

April International – MyHealth Extensive Plan

Policy highlights:

  • Global coverage except for the USA – can transfer to other countries if you move 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

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 that it will be eligible for a tax deduction

What you should know:

  • There are limits to coverage in terms of price and timeframe; 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

Medical Insurance HK 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. 

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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. 

How can I find affordable medical insurance in Hong Kong?

If you are looking for affordable medical insurance, we recommend you save yourself time and headaches by using an insurance broker. You don’t pay them upfront fees; rather, your broker is paid by the company you ultimately take the policy with. 

Independent insurance brokers will have access to some of the top names in expat health insurance, such as Cigna and BUPA in Hong Kong. They will also be in the best position to give you advice on which medical insurance will be most affordable for your pre-existing conditions and age.

When do I need health 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!). 

 

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. 

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

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12 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
  6. Derek

    Litai has helped save me time, money and perhaps most importantly, stress on many occasion. I appreciated the honest, jargon-free delivery of options available, the benefits and limitations of all choices clearly explained …which truly is a breath of fresh air!

    Reply
    • SavvyinHK

      hi Derek – thanks so much for your feedback!

      Reply

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