The healthcare system in Hong Kong is unique in that it has both a private and a government-sponsored track. Together these serve roughly 7.4 million people. Here are 8 things to know about the healthcare system in Hong Kong.
1. The Hong Kong healthcare system has excellent reputation. It is known for its quality and efficiency, and the healthy population it serves.
- Life expectancy is one of the highest in the world. According to the Department of Health in Hong Kong, life expectancy has reached 81.9 years for males and 87.6 years for females in 2017.
- Infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate are among the lowest in the world.
- With 43 public hospitals and 12 private hospitals in a densely populated city, healthcare is easily accessible (doctor home-visits are not common).
2. Hong Kong healthcare is a dual-track system.
- A public system which provides over 90% of all in-patient bed-days and 30% outpatient service according to the Department of Health in Hong Kong.
- A very expensive private system which takes on 70% of primary care services and only 10% of in-patient service according to the Department of Health in Hong Kong.
3. The healthcare system in Hong Kong faces 4 major, growing problems.
- An overstretched, overcrowded public sector.
- Shortage of doctors and other health professionals.
- Aging population with growing demand and low supply (according to the Chinese University of Hong Kong, roughly 30% of the population will be over 65 in 2033).
- Lack of public-private partnerships. Closer involvement from the private sector could help alleviate a number of issues.
4. The Hong Kong population faces very long wait times in the public sector.
In January 2019, patients coming for non-urgent cases at A&E departments of Hong Kong public hospitals had to wait about 8 hours. As examples, for certain procedures this is how much people have to wait:
- 8 to 30 months for a cataract operation.
- 42 to 117 months for a knee prosthesis.
5. Private healthcare in Hong Kong is the 2nd most expensive in the world after the US.
It is not standardized, and nothing limits what health providers can charge. Prices vary greatly depending on doctors’ reputation and location, for instance:
- A visit to a general practitioner can roughly range from HKD 250 to HKD 1,000.
- The cost of a childbirth delivery can vary between HKD 100,000 and HKD 450,000 in case of complications.
Your Guide to Hong Kong's 12 private hospitals: Adventist Hospital, Baptist Hospital, Canossa Hospital, Matilda Hospital, St Teresa Hospital, Union Hospital
6. Health insurance in Hong Kong isn’t cheap nor easy to understand.
- To afford private sector health expenses in Hong Kong, it is recommended to have private medical insurance through work or independently. Unlike countries like Switzerland or the United States, there is no obligation to have insurance in Hong Kong.
- The cost of private health insurance reflects the cost of private health in HK as well as medical inflation, which averages 8-10% per year, according to Mercer Marsh Benefits’ 2018 “Medical Trends Around the World” survey.
7. There are ways to reduce your costs at a private hospital.
- If you are hospitalized in a private hospital in Hong Kong, the best way to reduce your costs is to choose the least expensive room. In Hong Kong, there is a correlation between the cost of room and doctor medical fees.
- In other words, the more expensive the room, the higher the medical fees (even if the exact same service is provided). Doctors fees are therefore based on room type: private room, semi-private room or a multi-room.
8. In Hong Kong, chinese medicine is a regulated profession.
- Although Western medicine dominates in Hong Kong, the population also uses traditional Chinese medicine.
- It is a regulated medical profession since 1999 and the development of traditional Chinese medicine has been set as a priority by Carrie Lam’s government in 2019.
Expert guide about Hong Kong Medical Council's regulation & registration rules for doctors, dentists, midwifes, nurses. Quality of care and patient safety.
Looking for health insurance? Contact AD MediLink now at [email protected] or +852 2296 9773 for a quote with expert and unbiased advice. Their advisors are uniquely trained on the Hong Kong healthcare system (public and private) to answer all your questions.