Health Insurance and Breast Cancer in Hong Kong
October is breast cancer awareness month. Represented by the pink ribbon, it is the month when organizations, governments, and hospitals get together to help increase awareness of breast cancer which affects an estimated one in eight women around the world.
In this Pacific Prime Hong Kong article, we aim to clarify some confusion around breast cancer and health insurance in Hong Kong all the while exploring the costs of cancer care and treatment in detail.
Breast Cancer in Hong Kong
Breast cancer is by far the most common type of cancer among women in Hong Kong. According to the latest statistics available from the Hong Kong Breast Care Foundation, there were 4,956 women diagnosed with the cancer in 2020, which means that about 13 women were affected every day.
According to data provided by Hong Kong’s Center for Health Protection (CHP), breast cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths among females in Hong Kong, and the number of cases in the city is continuously increasing.
That said, breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates among all forms of cancer upon early diagnosis. According to Cancer Registry Statistics, the overall five-year relative survival rate of patients is 84%.
The Risk of Breast Cancer
As women become more aware of the potential dangers of the disease, we suggest that you start performing breast self-exams and get tested more frequently. Diagnosis at an earlier stage means better chances of survival.
That said, it is still incredibly important to be aware of the risk factors that could lead to an increased chance of breast cancer.
- Age – The chances of developing breast cancer increase with age with women over the age of 40 seeing much higher chances of developing it.
- Family health history – If your sister or mother has had breast or ovarian cancer, there is a higher chance that you will develop it too.
- Previous lumps – The majority of lumps women find in their breasts are actually benign (not cancerous). However, if you have had them before, you do stand a higher chance of developing breast cancer.
- Late menopause – Women who have gone through menopause later than average face a higher chance of developing breast cancer.
- Childbirth over the age of 30
Regardless of the risk factors associated with breast cancer, it is important that women have regular tests and screenings. Doctors generally recommend that women over 30 conduct a self-exam on a monthly basis, while women over 40 should consult with their doctor about a yearly mammogram.
The Cost of Receiving Care for Breast Cancer
Receiving care for breast cancer is pricey if you opt for the private system. Hong Kong, like many other cities in the region, has both a public and private system that is equipped to offer cancer care. In other countries alike, the private sector comes with a shorter waiting period.
Costs at Public Hospitals
For those considering receiving treatment from the public system, it is subsidized by the HK government, especially for people who hold a Hong Kong Identity (HKID) card. According to the Hospital Authority, the following operations and treatments will cost:
- Mammogram: Depending on where you seek care, specialist outpatient clinics charge HKD $135 for the first visit and HKD $80 for every visit thereafter. General outpatient clinics will charge HKD $50 for each visit. You will likely be referred to see a specialist by a general practitioner.
- Mastectomy: HKD $50 admission fee plus HKD $120 spent per day in the hospital. Extra charges for things like special food, extra beds, and some medication may also be charged.
- Chemo or radiation therapy: HKD $80 per visit
- Medication: This will vary depending on what you are prescribed. Some will be covered by the Hospital Authority. However, if you are put on trial medication, you may be charged separately.
Of course, if you do not have a HKID, you will be paying more at public hospitals. For instance, inpatient procedures cost HKD $5,100 per day, services at the intensive care unit (ICU) cost HKD $24,400 per day, and oncology visits for chemo and radiation therapy start at HKD $895 per attendance.
Costs at Private Facilities
The cost of scans and treatments will vary widely at Hong Kong’s private hospitals and clinics. Based on previous claims and information we have available, you can expect the following scans and treatments to cost:
- Mammogram: The Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation charges HKID holders between HKD $140-1,300 for screening and ultrasound services. The price is higher for non-HKID card holders.
- Mastectomy: This will vary immensely. For instance, a full or double mastectomy will cost anywhere between HKD $300,000- 500,000 if you opt for reconstructive surgery as well. For a single lumpectomy, you can expect to pay at least HKD $15,000.
- Chemo/radiation therapy: Based on past claims handled by us, you can expect to pay between HKD $40,000-50,000 for a single session of chemotherapy.
- Medication: This will vary depending on the medication you are prescribed. Research reported that one patient’s cancer medication costs HKD $200,000 per month, up to HKD $800,000 for breast cancer.
With breast cancer, it is important that you start treatment as early as possible. You may want to turn to the private system for care with shorter wait times. In order to cover the cost, especially if you want to visit private hospitals for care, you are going to need a robust health insurance plan.
Does Your Health Insurance Cover Breast Cancer?
To get straight to the point, yes! Almost every single health insurance plan available on the market will cover breast cancer and related treatments. One thing to be aware of, however, is that plans that don’t cover preventive care may not cover screening procedures like mammograms.
Note: It is important to read the details of your plan to see if there are any treatments excluded.
If you have had breast cancer in the past, some insurers may exclude coverage of all treatments related to the condition. Others may decline to cover you at all. On the other hand, if you have been cancer-free for a number of years, insurers may consider your application.
Regardless of what your situation is, we recommend working out the best method with Pacific Prime Hong Kong. We have an experienced team of insurance experts who can help identify a plan that will meet your coverage needs and budget
Contact us today for impartial advice and an obligation-free quote!
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