How to choose the best Hong Kong family insurance: 5 helpful tips
Hong Kong is truly one of Asia’s best expat locations to raise a family; it’s safe, international, and features a diverse selection of schools. The city’s healthcare system also ranks among the top countries in the world, and comprises of 12 private and 42 public hospitals to serve its population of over 7.3 million people.
The cost of care here, however, can be hefty compared to the costs charged in many expats’ home countries. For instance, a standard outpatient consultation with a private GP can easily amount to over HKD 1,000, according to our Public vs Private Healthcare Guide. The good news is, Hong Kong family insurance can help your family address these costs, and streamline the medical care you and your loved ones may need.
At Pacific Prime Hong Kong, we understand that finding the right coverage can be tricky, especially when you have to secure health insurance for the whole family at once. To help make the process less stressful, today’s article focuses on the below 5 tips for choosing the best family health insurance in the SAR.
1. Identify the right coverage benefits for your family
The first step towards finding the right Hong Kong family insurance will involve identifying the coverage benefits that you would like the plan to contain. If you’ve had any experience researching health insurance options online, you’ll likely notice significant differences in the coverage benefits between insurers, and even plans from the same insurance company.
For example, the cheapest, most basic plans may only cover emergency treatment requiring overnight hospital stays (i.e. inpatient care), whereas costlier, more comprehensive health plans can additionally cover doctors and specialist visits, tests, and even additional benefits like dental checkups and treatment.
In our experience, most expat families look for Hong Kong family insurance plans that include some or all of the following benefits:
- Inpatient cover
- Outpatient cover
- Dental treatment
- Vision care
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- International coverage
- Preventative benefits (e.g. health checkups)
- Pre-existing condition cover
2. Know how to save money on your premium
Let’s face it: we all want to save money. One thing to watch out for, however – especially when it comes to buying insurance – is that the cheapest policy is likely not conducive to the most optimal benefits, or the best reputation for customer service and claims reimbursement. That said, there are a number of things you can do to lower your family health insurance premium, such as:
Adjusting your deductible
A deductible is the amount you must pay first when you require care, before your insurer covers the rest. Generally speaking, the higher the deductible, the cheaper your overall premium will be – and vice versa. When deciding upon an appropriate deductible for your family plan, you’ll want to weigh up how much the deductible will cost you over one year vs. having a fully covered plan.
Asking about family insurance discounts
Some, but not all insurers will offer some form of discount on family health insurance plans. This may be in the form of a multi-child discount, which may mean that you’ll only need to pay for the first two children, with any subsequent children covered for free. This is not a guarantee, but it can be worth asking about this if you’re looking to add your children to your existing health plan.
Being aware of health insurance inflation figures
While this won’t directly reduce your premium, it could pay to stay up-to-date on the latest premium inflation information in Hong Kong. According to our State of Health Insurance 2017-2018 report, international health insurance premiums experienced an average inflation rate of 12.1% in 2016, which is substantially higher than the global figure of 9.2%. If you find that your plan’s premium has gone up significantly higher than the average, this might be worth looking into, as it could mean that you’re paying too much for health coverage.
3. Watch out for plan limitations and exclusions
If you’ve ever secured health insurance before, you’re likely aware that all plans come with lengthy terms and conditions detailing the benefits that you as the policyholder are entitled to, as well as any limitations or plan exclusions. When reading the policy documentation, some of the most important things to watch out for include:
- The benefit limits: Make sure the benefit limits on your plan (i.e. the maximum amount that your insurer will pay for your insurance benefits) are at a level you’re comfortable with.
- Healthcare provider network: This refers to the network of medical facilities and doctors that insurers will either suggest or require clients to use when seeking care. While seeking in-network care does save money for both the insurer and the insured, the downside is that it also limits parents’ options of where to have their child treated. Of course, you can still choose to go to a doctors clinic that is outside of your plan’s network, but your insurance may only pay a small portion on any claims made, or even not provide reimbursement at all.
- Pre-existing coverage: Do you or your family members currently have, or did they previously have, any illnesses or injuries? These are what insurers refer to as pre-existing conditions, which are often excluded in individually-purchased health insurance plans. That said, some insurers do offer the option of covering certain pre-existing conditions, but will likely place an additional premium on your plan, or impose a waiting period on those particular conditions (more on this in the next point).
- Waiting periods: This term describes the amount of time that must pass before your insurance will pay out on benefits like vaccinations, dental, or maternity treatment. It’s worth noting here that Hong Kong maternity insurance benefits typically come with a waiting period of around 10 to 12 months, meaning it must be secured well ahead of conception.
4. Get worldwide family insurance protection
So say you do secure a Hong Kong family insurance plan without any limits on which clinic or hospital your family can go to in the city-state. Will your family then have health coverage that follows you wherever you go?
Area of coverage is another important aspect to consider, especially if you’re a frequent traveller and/or a globally mobile expat. This is because local health insurance plans will in most cases only cover care within Hong Kong. This means that if you happen to be outside of Hong Kong visiting home, going on holiday, or moving countries, your whole family will be without health insurance.
Luckily for those who travel with their families often, there are international health insurance plans that offer health coverage in virtually any hospital or clinic, in any country around the world. International plans are also globally portable, meaning it will protect you wherever you go, even if your family relocates or returns to your home country.
5. Engage the help of a Hong Kong family insurance expert
Regardless of whether you’re new to Hong Kong or you’ve been here for several years, securing the right Hong Kong family insurance isn’t easy. Trustworthy internet resources, like the ones featured on our Health Insurance Guides page, can be great places to find helpful information, but your family’s best choice would be to get in touch with an experienced, licensed broker like Pacific Prime Hong Kong.
Pacific Prime Hong Kong has almost 20 years of experience matching expats and their families with the best family health insurance coverage for their needs, at the best possible price. As an independent broker, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones are at the center of our decision making – not the profit of the insurers. Not only can we help you find the best plan, but our support teams can also make sure that when your family does require medical care, the claims process is as smooth and hassle-free as possible.
For a free quote, or some impartial advice, get in touch with our experts today!