The experiences of everyday life in Hong Kong can vary considerably from person to person, and so too can their health insurance. As the territory with the second most expensive private healthcare in the world, after the United States, Hong Kongers are well incentivised to make use of the city’s public healthcare offerings. For those that are still inclined to opt for private hospitals and their costly medical care, health insurance is a virtual necessity.
In light of this, top local health insurance broker Pacific Prime Hong Kong tells us how to identify what a good health insurance plan looks like in Hong Kong.
Healthcare in Hong Kong
For those that are relatively new in the city, it may pay to start off with a quick overview of the local healthcare system.
Hong Kong is a city that takes care of its people when it comes to their healthcare needs. This is done with a universal healthcare system that allows anyone with a Hong Kong ID – whether they are a citizen or not – to receive affordable, subsidised care in the city’s local public hospitals. It is so affordable, in fact, that most treatments can be obtained for less than $100 per day.
This is not to say that the public healthcare system here is without its drawbacks. Though the quality of care in Hong Kong’s public hospitals is generally very good, it still suffers from some of the same issues that tend to plague national universal healthcare systems around the world. These include long wait times, crowded waiting areas, and quick visits with the doctor that may leave people feeling rushed or not fully informed.
Hong Kong’s private hospitals, on the other hand, are mostly able to address these issues and provide an entirely different experience to patients. Private hospitals overall have a superior quality of care, cutting edge medical technology, and foreign-trained doctors. Expatriates in Hong Kong often choose private hospitals for the medical care, as they are usually able to provide multilingual service, with doctors and nurses that can speak their language. Of course, the drawback is that the cost of this care can be expensive.
What you need from Hong Kong health insurance
If you decide that you would like to have access to private hospitals, you will want to secure health insurance to receive the care without breaking the bank. So, what do you need from a plan?
In-patient coverage is the most important aspect of any health insurance plan. This type of insurance is generally used for serious medical conditions that result in a patient remaining in the hospital overnight. If it’s an emergency, or it’s life threatening, there’s a good chance that in-patient insurance will cover it.
The other major type of health insurance coverage is out-patient insurance, which constitutes just about every type of medical treatment that one might receive at a hospital that does not require an overnight stay. This includes things like chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, putting a cast on a broken bone, or even something as standard as a general check-up, or even seeing a doctor for a cold. While in-patient insurance is quintessential to health insurance cover, out-patient coverage is not included with all medical insurance policies.
There are also more specialised medical coverages available that do not come as standard with in and out-patient plans. Such insurances include maternity insurance, dental insurance, and vision insurance. If you want to be covered for one or all of these, you need to check your policy documentation to see if they are included, as many health insurance plans – even company-provided ones – will frequently exclude them as standard.
Important things to know
All medical insurance policies feature the same set of terminology that are used across the entire health insurance industry. Here are the ones you should be familiar with when picking the best possible Hong Kong health insurance plan:
Guaranteed lifetime renewable – If you have health insurance, you want it to last for your entire life, if possible. The term you will want to look for on your plan is ‘guaranteed lifetime renewable’, which essentially means that you will always be able to continue on with your policy, no matter your age or medical condition.
Direct billing – You will want to have insurance through a provider provides direct billing agreements with the hospitals you are likely to use most. Direct billing allows the insurer to settle payments with medical care providers directly, saving you the headache of submitting claims documentation and waiting for reimbursement.
Provider network – Some insurance plans will limit your choice of hospitals, clinics, and the doctors you can use and still be covered. This is called a provider network, and limits patient choice and freedom.
Deductible/excess – Many insurance plans feature a deductible or excess, which is essentially an amount of money that must be paid out by a policyholder before the insurance company will provide any insurance benefits to them. The higher your deductible is, the lower your premiums are likely to be, but overall it amounts to you paying for your healthcare.
Maximum benefits – Your insurance plan could cover you for every condition under the sun, but if your maximum benefit on each of those conditions is very low, your benefits can run out, leaving you to pay anything beyond them on your own. If possible, make sure that your maximum benefit limits are higher than you are likely to ever need them to be.
Exclusions/pre-existing conditions – Some insurance providers will want to exclude certain conditions from coverage. This is especially true if you have a history of said conditions, which may then be counted as pre-existing conditions. Sometimes it is possible to be covered for pre-existing conditions, but this will require an additional payment, known as a loading.
International plans – Provider networks are one thing, but it should also be noted that local health insurance plans will only provide benefits inside of Hong Kong’s borders. However, if you would like to receive worldwide insurance coverage, allowing you to seek medical care at virtually any medical facility around the globe, there are international health insurance plans available that will provide this.
Who to contact
The ideal Hong Kong insurance plan would come with all of the benefits mentioned above, including in-patient, out-patient, maternity, dental, and vision coverage. It would also be guaranteed lifetime renewable, have direct billing with your favourite hospitals, not limit you to a particular provider network, have zero deductible, not exclude any conditions, and have high maximum benefits caps, so that you are never forced to pay out of pocket.
The reality is, though, that not everyone can afford the costs of such a plan. A great Hong Kong health insurance policy is one that gives you the benefits you need most, at a price that fits your budget. Finding such a health insurance plan can be tricky, but there is help available!
A well-established and knowledgeable insurance broker, like Pacific Prime Hong Kong, can answer any questions you have about local health insurance. They can also do the necessary leg work to compare all plans available from top insurance companies and present you with the best options for your needs. What’s more, they can give you a quotation free of charge.
Contact Pacific Prime today to find the greatest Hong Kong health insurance plan for you!