If you choose to have your baby in a Hong Kong private hospital, a vaginal childbirth at standard room rates on Hong Kong Island can reach HK$70,000–$100,000 and an emergency C-section at private room rates can exceed HK$250,000 (these amounts include hospital and doctor fees). Because there are so many variables in childbirth, it is difficult to predict the total costs in advance. Maternity Insurance is essential in Hong Kong if you plan to deliver in a private hospital.
In general, you can’t get pregnancy insurance if you are pregnant when you apply to purchase the plan. All private insurance plans impose a “maternity waiting period”, usually 10 or 12 months, during which you are unable to claim for maternity-related expenses.
We asked Alea employee benefits & health insurance advisor, and mother of two Dee Cheung — to give us some tips on choosing the right maternity coverage.
I don’t have maternity coverage through work. Can I just buy maternity insurance in Hong Kong?
Maternity coverage alone cannot be purchased separately. Maternity coverage is usually bundled or added to an inpatient coverage, or inpatient and outpatient coverage.
I have maternity coverage in Hong Kong through work, but it is capped at HK$20,000. Can I buy additional maternity insurance and still claim from my work insurance?
Yes you can. In Hong Kong, you can cumulate health insurance policies, as long as you don’t claim twice for the same amount, which is fraud. You can claim from your work policy for certain invoices and your individual policy for other claims to maximize reimbursements. Many women claim from their work plan for prenatal care and use their individual coverage for childbirth.
Maternity insurance waiting period: What should I know? Can the waiting period be waived?
A maternity waiting period applies when purchasing your own health insurance or if your employer’s insurance policy imposes one. Waiting periods are most common for small companies, while large companies usually waive the waiting period.
Maternity waiting periods may vary between 9 and 18 months, with the market average being 10 or 12 months.
During the maternity waiting period, you are unable to claim for maternity-related expenses. If you become pregnant before the end of your waiting period, you will only be reimbursed for the pregnancy-related medical expenses incurred after the end of the waiting period.
Waiting periods applied to individual policies (as opposed to work policies) cannot be waived. I would be very cautious of any product that waives the waiting period.
What are the usual limits to maternity insurance in Hong Kong?
Maternity coverage limits vary tremendously, from as little as HK$16,000 under a local policy to HK$150,000 under a high-end, international plan. You should also verify the coverage in case of complications, like an emergency C-section. Some providers double the normal limit, while others reimburse 100% of all expenses – up to the overall annual limit of the plan.
Are there any advantages to purchasing maternity insurance in Hong Kong when already pregnant?
While it is generally too late to purchase maternity coverage if you are already pregnant, there are some hidden advantages to purchasing private health insurance when pregnant.
- Some plans will cover an already pregnant policyholder who did not complete the maternity waiting period for “complications of pregnancy” but only and if the complications are not pre-existing. For example, a mother can be reimbursed 100% of the expenses related to an emergency C-section, up to the overall annual limit of her plan.
- Some insurance providers cover a child with “medical history disregarded” if the mother was already pregnant when she purchased the plan or if she did not complete the waiting period. The mother can add the newborn to her policy without any underwriting and the newborn can be covered for any congenital disease. This is a key advantage compared to purchasing a separate child policy once the baby is born (i.e. stand-alone child policy) for which there is underwriting.
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Dee Cheung is a health insurance and employee benefits specialist at Alea. She has worked within the health insurance industry advising companies on their employee benefits structure and individual families on having the right coverage. She has been in Hong Kong for 15 years and is also a health and wellness influencer, trained baby massage therapist and birth doula.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.