Hong Kong is quite rightly ranked as one of the world’s best expat destinations. This southeast Asian enclave offers contrast galore. It is vibrant, hectic, colourful, and bubbles with life. Yet amongst all of this, you will find calm.
Let’s first take a look at what the territory has to offer and why expatriates from around the globe flock here in numbers. From there, we will get into details of the country’s medical care and health systems and explain why securing international expat insurance in Hong Kong is a must.
Hong Kong is situated off the southeastern coast of mainland China. Although it is now an administrative region of China, the territory has a separate government, laws, and its own currency (the HKD - Hong Kong Dollar).
The official language is Chinese with Cantonese being the regional dialect but expats will find English widely spoken. It is divided into three main administrative regions; Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, and the New Territories. From there it is further split into eighteen districts.
Hong Kong island is the historic, economic, and political centre. Business-focused it certainly is. However, this is where you will also find tourist attractions, public parks, and high-class shopping malls that truly reflect its international flavour. Along with that expats will find it is the most expensive area to live in.
Moving on to Kowloon, this urban area is far cheaper than the island and still retains a more traditional Chinese culture. Huge markets and street food to savour are noticeable highlights.
As for the New Territories, this area was added to Hong Kong during British rule and is the least populated area. Green spaces abound and the atmosphere and life are far more low-key and local. While accommodation is cheaper, the expat community here is small and a grasp of basic local language is seen as necessary.
Any modern-day visitor will find it very hard to believe that Hong Kong was once a quiet backwater consisting of fishing communities and small villages with an interior of mountainous terrain where few chose to live.
Today it is a booming territory that is famous for its sprawl of skyscrapers, bustling street markets, some of the best shopping the world has to offer, and a delicious choice of food that is hard to better anywhere.
Whether you go for classic Hong Kong street food, Michelin-starred restaurants, or anything in between there is a dazzling array of mouth-watering dishes to take advantage of. Entertainment is not in short supply. Rooftop bars and nightlife venues can make for a very special night out while the street art and countless neon signs mean a new visual experience at every turn.
Hong Kong can be hectic and noisy but it also has a tranquil side that all expats will surely take advantage of. This comes from the public parks and green spaces in and around the main business areas as well as country parks further afield.
Before looking at what is available in terms of health care and reasons to consider international expat insurance in Hong Kong a mention must be made relating to transportation. Road congestion means excessive traffic jams are a daily occurrence.
Many expats find it far more convenient to use the excellent and cheap public transport systems. These consist of the highly efficient MRT (Mass Transit Railway) buses and trams and ferry services. Those expats living on Kowloon but working on the island will make regular use of the iconic Star Ferry services.
Whether as a necessity or for pleasure these short ferry trips offer stunning views of the world-renowned Hong Kong skyline and Victoria Harbour. It also happens to be one of the cheapest and most pleasant transportation modes available.
The first thing to be said about the standards of health and medical care in Hong Kong is that many rate them as second to none. Should any form of treatment or a hospital stay be required, expats will benefit from services that are as good as anywhere in the world.
When living in Hong Kong, expats will find the healthcare system gives 2 choices; public healthcare and private medical care. The public healthcare service is government-provided and is jointly administered by the Hong Kong Department of Health and the Hospital Authority. All healthcare services offered are either free of charge or come with a small fee.
Expatriates should note that there is no financial contribution required to take advantage of the public health services. However, to use these services expats should acquire a valid visa and a Hong Kong ID card. Once this is achieved public healthcare facilities are available.
Well-organized regional clusters of hospitals, clinics, doctors, and medical staff mean relative ease of access. These establishments provide modern medical equipment and a high level of medical standards. The majority of hospitals also offer 24-hour A&E (Accident & Emergency) services. There are also ample maternal healthcare centers that provide full services for women and children.
While the public healthcare system does provide good standards of treatment for eligible expats these establishments often have long waiting times. It should also be noted that the ‘admission’ process is not the most customer-friendly.
Another factor to take into account is that public health care does not include any dental care treatment and private dental treatment can be expensive. This makes taking out extra health insurance to cover any dental work recommended. It will mean expats will not have to pay the full amount for these services from their own pocket.
Many expatriates avail of the excellent private health care facilities in Hong Kong. Should consultation, treatment or a hospital stay be necessary, expats can be assured of excellent services.
Modern, clean establishments are in good supply, and state-of-the-art medical equipment is in place. All employed specialists, doctors, nursing, and administrative staff will speak good English and their treatment procedures match the best any country has to offer.
Other noticeable benefits include shorter waiting times for many procedures. Should hospitalization be required then very comfortable accommodation is yours along with extended visiting hours. The fact you can include dental and optical cover in private medical insurance must also not be forgotten.
Without arranging expat health insurance on an individual basis (or including any family members), the cost of these services can be very high. It is possible to obtain private health insurance as part of an employment package or on a personal basis.
Those expats who want comprehensive cover and peace of mind have an excellent choice of private policies available. This makes choosing the appropriate cover for your needs the way to go.
Expats who have a valid work visa and the Hong Kong ID Card in place can make use of the public health care system. As discussed this is of a good standard. However, it does not offer the comprehensive cover and more ‘personal’ service that private medical insurance offers.
Both single expatriates and those who have dependents with them should consider taking our private health insurance policies. This can be done to take advantage of a more comprehensive policy or one that ‘tops up’ whatever cover is offered from an employee health insurance scheme.
As is usual, companies employing expatriate workers will often include health insurance coverage as part of the remuneration package. It should be understood that these policies vary considerably. They can be in the form of a basic package right up to comprehensive cover.
Examples here are that you may have to pay a deductible and that some of these insurance plans only cover a percentage of medical expenses. Others may also limit you to certain doctors. If your policy is limited in such ways, expats should be aware that co-payment for some visits or certain treatment types is a possibility.
That being the case it is often worth taking out further personal cover to ensure that any copayment requirements do not leave you out of pocket. Expats must check what is and what is not covered through their company health insurance package.
It should also be understood that there are two types of private health cover available in Hong Kong. These come in the form of a local plan and international health insurance cover.
If choosing local health insurance cover this will only be valid for any medical attention while you are in Hong Kong. Premiums for this local cover are based on local medical costs.
There is another very important factor to bear in mind relating to local insurance policies. Unlike other places around the world (European countries being good examples) is that regardless of the state of your health these local policies are not tacitly renewed.
What this means is that at each renewal term local Hong Kong insurance companies re-examine your file. From such a review they are at liberty to reject renewal if your health condition has changed.
Do bear in mind that if such a renewal comes up during expensive medical treatment this can leave you without the necessary cover. It would also mean that you would be responsible to pay for ongoing treatment. If that is the case there is no doubt that it could put a real burden on your personal savings.
On the other hand, taking out the best international expat insurance in Hong Kong gives you freedom of choice. Such a policy would cover any medical services while in the country and it will follow you should you visit other countries that are included in your worldwide plan.
Another reason international health cover is recommended relates to any possible relocation. If you move from Hong Kong to another country that is covered by your existing policy then you will remain covered upon arrival.
It must be reiterated that while the available health care offered by private establishments is excellent it is also some of the most expensive in the world. This should tell you that having insufficient cover when treatment is needed could put a big hole in your savings.
In terms of the general cost of living (particularly when it comes to accommodation rental) Hong Kong ranks up there with the most expensive cities in the world. This is countered by the fact that expatriate salaries are high and their standard of living is excellent. Expats who settle here should have everything needed to ensure a very comfortable lifestyle.
In line with that comes an excellent healthcare system. Those expats who opt for first-class facilities and treatment offered by the many private medical establishments will reap the benefits. However, without having expat insurance cover in place that could prove extremely costly.
As for business owners and those employees responsible for arranging expat insurance cover, one thing is very important. Due to the wide range of expat health policies currently available, it is vital to keep your finger on the pulse.
Regular reviews of what type of cover and associated costs is a must. Carrying out such reviews with the assistance of an experienced international health insurance broker (insert expat by expat link to ‘home’ page or the comparator?) will ensure you obtain the most attractive all-around options for current and potential employees.
As for individual expats or those who have dependents with them, enjoying the best of everything should be your goal. To achieve that a very important piece of the jigsaw must be to secure quality international expat insurance in Hong Kong.
Putting this in place does not have to be a chore but due to the vast number of policies available, this can be time-consuming and often confusing. Here are just 6 of the many considerations that need to be taken into account. While these points are in no way exhaustive it does give a starting point:
Due to the number of expats in Hong Kong and the sterling medical services offered the insurance sector is extremely competitive. This means good research is necessary to ensure you get the best deal on a private medical insurance plan.
This is where an experienced and fully qualified insurance broker can take the strain and that is exactly what the Expat by Expat team is ready to do.
With long experience in the international expat insurance world, we are committed to advising you of exactly what international expat insurance in Hong Kong is available. Our no-obligation service is available to individual expats, those bringing dependents to Hong Kong, and Hong Kong companies that employ expatriate workers.
The real positive of using our service comes from the fact that all you need to do is complete the quick and easy expat health insurance comparator above.
Doing so will allow you to get on with what you do best without having to make endless time-consuming comparisons of your own. This is because Expat by Expat has an intimate knowledge of Hong Kong's international health policies.
We will assess your needs on an individual basis and present you with a choice of policies that best meet your personal needs. Please feel free to get in touch at any time.
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