An Introduction into Hong Kong Health Insurance Plans
Many people who come to Hong Kong come from countries where health insurance may not be a big concern for the average citizen. Great public healthcare and reasonable costs are now fairly commonplace in many countries around the world. Hong Kong also has good public healthcare, but like many other countries, the public healthcare sector can be rife with long wait times and poor service when compared to private healthcare facilities that the city has to offer. For this reason, many expats and their families turn to private hospitals for their medical needs.
What they quickly find is that Hong Kong has some of the highest healthcare costs in the world, and that possessing health insurance in hong kong is a must in the face of just about any healthcare emergency. Which plan is right for you and your family, though? Here, we take a look at popular health insurance plans, insurers and coverage elements in Hong Kong in order to help you decide which plan fits best.
Hong Kong Insurers
Being one of the most important business hubs in Asia, Hong Kong is home to offices for all of the world’s biggest insurance companies, and their full array of health insurance plans. Prominent European insurers like Bupa, Allianz and AXA, as well as American insurers such as Cigna, Aetna and MetLife are stalwarts of the global health insurance landscape all have a strong presence in the city. In addition, many burgeoning insurers from relatively new insurance markets like China are also present.
Because of the large number of insurers present in Hong Kong, one of the great features of finding a health insurance plan in the city is that there are so many to choose from. Most insurers provide several tiers of plans with different levels of coverage. Furthermore, some can even custom tailor plans specifically to their clients’ needs.
What you would find if you dive into the standard health insurance plans offered by most insurers in Hong Kong is 2 or 3 tiers of plans that cater to different needs and budgets. The lower tier plans generally provide coverage for inpatient treatments and catastrophic illness, without many extras.
The average middle tier plan starts to include coverage for outpatient treatments, as well as some maternity benefits and private hospital rooms. It also raises maximum benefits for the inpatient care that is provided by the lower tier plans.
Finally the upper tier plans raise maximum benefits even higher and provide the most comprehensive coverage. Many such plans cover annual health checks, routine maternity and elective c-sections.
Of course, every insurance company has different features for their health insurance plans, so some features that can be found on every plan from one insurer may not be found on any from another. Talking to one of Pacific Prime’s qualified insurance agents is a great first step to take in finding a plan that has everything you are looking for in a health insurance plan. They can even go beyond the general offerings provided by insurers and create plans customised specifically for you and your family.
Hong Kong Demand for Expat Health Insurance
Opportunities for expatriates to work in Asia remain on the rise, and understanding key Asian markets relies on a close inspection of trends regarding the flow of new expatriates, particularly in Hong Kong’s case with it’s reputation as a stronghold of multiculturalism.
A 2013 consensus calculated that of the world’s estimated 50 million expatriates, about 0.6% reside in Hong Kong. That is over 301,000 expats living in the city, and comparing that to the 2009 record of 252,000 reveals a significant increase of 4.6%.
Although appearing relatively low when compared to some countries (the UAE has 5.4 million expatriates) it is relevant to note that Hong Kong is geographically small with a population of 7.1 million people, making the total percentage of expats in the city a more substantial 4.24%. Excluding four countries in the Middle East: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar (due to their small populations, all have highly skewed number of expats) Hong Kong is placed 7th in the world for percentage of total population constituting expats. Canada has a slightly higher percentage with 4.6% making up their total population, Australia higher with 6.5%, Switzerland with 8%, Singapore with 13.4%, Saudi Arabia with 30% and the UAE with a markedly high 60.4%.
The projected trend between the 2013 record and a 2017 estimate is a further increase of 7%. This additional 7% would bring the total expat community in Hong Kong to an expected 395.000, keeping the position as one of the most common locations for expatriates to reside in the world.
Who are the Expats?
Most expatriates in Hong Kong today originate from neighbouring countries around Southeast Asia, with Indonesians contributing the largest amount making up 26.3% of the total expat percentage. Filipinos constitute 18.3% and China comes in third with 14%. The rest of the expat population is largely made up from various countries including France, South Korea, India, the UK, Canada, Japan, and Pakistan.
One report offered valuable insight into the British expats currently in Hong Kong; the global Quality of Life Index. Constructed by the Centre for Future Studies, it examines solely British expatriate opinions on twelve countries. It measures attitudes on lifestyle, employment and financial status, tracking seven years in each country from 2008 and ranking them based on the positive and negative responses. 2014 saw Hong Kong rising considerably in the rankings, having only secured 11th and 12th positions in the previous 5 years, settling higher this year at 8th.
Source: Centre for Future Studies
In 2012, work visas issued to UK citizens increased by 45 per cent from the previous year, the highest recorded increase ever.
Demand for Expat Health Insurance
According to a release from ECA International and the company’s latest Cost of Living survey, Hong Kong is now the 10th most expensive location to live as an expatriates in the Asia Pacific region, (28th globally). With a financial industry in Hong Kong still accelerating, the proportion of expats working as either individuals or as corporate transferees is higher than the average for the rest of the world. These increases, and the steady nature of growing wealth in Hong Kong has highlighted expats as key targets for brokers providing expat health insurance in hong kong to both new arrivals and those who have maintained lives in Hong Kong over the past two decades.
This has unveiled a market opportunity for insurance brokers to sell health insurance directly to expats who are seeking the benefits of international private medical insurance, some of which can cover individuals who necessarily travel due to work, or those who return ‘home’ frequently. The transferable nature of the majority of expat health insurance plans available (cover that does not end after moving to a different country) have been a crucial aspect when deciding on the most valuable premiums, down to the nature of expatriates being forced to relocate regularly.
Hong Kong continues to attract strong global talent, and as a result remains an offering as a continually growing market for expat health insurance in Asia. The market continues to grow globally and attracts high net worth expats at an increasing rate.
For more information about securing expat health insurance, just get in touch with one of our advisors today. The service is free and you'll be given a wide range of choice in your selection of insurers and their plans.
Data Sources: Finaccord ExpatriateBASE, hongkongbusiness.hk, World Health Organization, statisticbrain.com.
Things to Consider
When shopping around for health insurance plans in Hong Kong, there are a number of things that you will want to consider. Below we have listed some of the important plan aspects that you will want to be knowledgeable of:
The deductible, which is the part of an insurance claim that is paid by the insured, has a huge impact on health insurance premiums. Finding the right balance between deductible and monthly premiums can be important in fitting a plan to your budget.
It is important to know what parts of the world your health insurance plan will cover you in. This is especially true for those of us that travel regularly, or even just a couple times a year. Some insurance plans have very specific areas of cover, but Pacific Prime specialises in plans with worldwide coverage to ensure that you will be protected no matter where you go.
In the event you do have a medical emergency while abroad, you will want to make sure that you have access to high quality medical facilities to address your needs. A health insurance plan that features emergency evacuation coverage will ensure that even if you are in an area that isn’t capable of taking care of you, you will be transported to a location that is.
Pre-existing & Chronic Condition Coverage
If you are currently uninsured and suffering from a chronic condition, you will likely want to find a health insurance plan that offers you a chance of having your condition covered. Some plans include a moratorium where you will be covered for a condition if you do not have an occurrence of it for a specified period of time - usually 1 or 2 years. Other plans may offer benefits for a pre-existing condition by raising your premium, which is referred to as ‘loading’.
Maternity care in one of Hong Kong’s private hospitals can be very expensive. Making sure that you have comprehensive coverage for prenatal care, labour & delivery, and any unexpected complications will protect you from large out of pocket payments.
Of course it is important to make sure that you are protected from catastrophic illness and conditions that would require major surgery, but having coverage for outpatient treatments will provide benefits for conditions that may not be life threatening, but are nevertheless important.
Some plans have a maximum age limit, while others are guaranteed renewable for life.