Moving to HK? Tips for picking the best personal medical insurance plan
The prospect of relocating to a megacity like Hong Kong can be both exciting and daunting. Ensuring that you’ve made all the necessary preparations is therefore key in alleviating some of the stress that naturally comes with moving to a new country. One thing that you will quickly discover when doing research on the SAR is that the cost of living is extremely high here. In fact, the BBC reported two weeks ago that Hong Kong is now the most expensive city for expats. Chief among the things expats and locals alike commonly splurge on is healthcare, and thus having the right Hong Kong personal medical insurance plan is essential.
Below, we share advice on picking the best personal medical insurance plan in Hong Kong. To get a free quote and plan comparison, get in touch with our team of advisors today.
Is healthcare in Hong Kong really that expensive?
The answer to this question will depend on where you choose to seek care, and also your residency status. The public sector is heavily subsidized in Hong Kong and, as we talked about in more detail in our Public vs Private Healthcare Guide, inpatient treatments at public hospitals can be as cheap as HKD 100. Please note here, however, that subsidized prices only apply to those with valid Hong Kong Identity Cards (HKID).
Those deemed ineligible for subsidized treatment – i.e. those without a HKID – will need to pay the full cost for services received at public facilities. For example, A&E department admission charges for ineligible persons can easily cost more than HKD 999 (excluding additional charges) per attendance.
While public healthcare is indeed of high quality in Hong Kong, these facilities are notorious for long wait times – so long in fact that some patients have reported waiting more than 20 hours for bed space at A&E wards. As such, many locals and expats living in Hong Kong prefer to seek care mostly or exclusively at Hong Kong’s private hospitals and clinics.
Offering exceptional comfort, short wait times, the ability to choose your own doctor, and many other highly coveted perks, it’s no wonder why private facilities in the SAR continue to burgeon in popularity. Costs at such facilities, however, can be very expensive, even for standard consultations – it’s not unusual for private facility patients to pay over HKD 1,000 for an outpatient appointment; the figure is even higher for consultations with specialists.
With this in mind, a wise move for anyone moving to or living in Hong Kong is to find the right personal medical insurance plan to offset the high cost of healthcare here.
5 tips for choosing the best personal medical insurance plan
As an expat moving to Hong Kong, you will likely have some form of health coverage provided to you by your employer. However, employer-provided plans can sometimes come with low benefit limits, lack of cover for your children and spouse, Hong Kong-only coverage, and a number of other limitations which we’ve outline in our Top-Up Insurance Guide. In the event that you are without sufficient coverage, or any coverage at all, you can either secure your own health insurance policy, or obtain a top-up plan should this option be available to you.
While online comparison sites have definitely made it easier to find health insurance plans online, the high number of plans and different insurers to choose from can make finding the best policy on your own difficult. Here, we provide 5 surefire tips to help make the process of finding and comparing health insurance easier for you.
1. Know what your healthcare needs are
The healthcare and insurance coverage needs of a young working professional in their mid-twenties will likely be very different from the needs of a 65 year old retiree. As healthcare needs vary significantly between different people, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all personal medical insurance plan. The best health insurance plan for an individual will therefore depend on their specific healthcare needs.
When estimating your healthcare needs, it’s a good idea to consider the following questions:
- Do I have any pre-existing conditions? A pre-existing condition is any illness or injury you’ve had prior to joining a new health insurance plan. Private medical insurance plans will in most cases automatically exclude such conditions, but some insurers offer the option of covering them. Please bear in mind that limitations (e.g. waiting periods) will likely apply, and the cost of covering pre-existing conditions can be substantially higher than normal.
- How often do I visit the GP/specialist? If you frequently visit your GP or specialist, it might make more sense to find a policy that covers outpatient treatment.
- Do I travel or move countries often? As a globally mobile expat, international health insurance might be the best option for you, as it ensures that you are covered anywhere in the world.
2. Decide the level of coverage you require
After ascertaining your healthcare needs, the next step is to decide the level of coverage you require. The most basic plans in Hong Kong typically cover hospitalization treatment only, whereas more comprehensive plans may feature extensive benefits for things like specialist visits, alternative medicine, chiropractic care, maternity care, and more. From our experience, expats in Hong Kong often opt for plans that cover all or some of the following:
- Inpatient treatment
- Outpatient services
- Maternity treatment
- Dental care
- Optical care
- Health check-ups
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Worldwide coverage
3. Find a plan with the view of keeping it for the long term
When securing a new health plan, you will likely find that any pre-existing conditions you’ve had prior to joining the policy will be automatically excluded. If you switch insurers often, this will mean that any conditions you’ve developed with your old insurer(s) will be excluded by the new one(s).
As such, finding a plan with the view of keeping it for the long term is usually the most cost-effective option. The key here, however, is finding a trustworthy insurer that has a stable history of premium increases. While cost increases are inevitable, plans offered by less stable insurers are more likely to have erratic rate increases.
4. Be wary of the cheapest plans
While it’s undoubtedly tempting to secure the cheapest plan you can find, they likely won’t offer the best coverage for your needs. The most common drawbacks of cheap health insurance plans to watch out for include:
- High out-of-pocket charges
- Low coverage limits
- No international coverage
- Restrictive provider networks
- Erratic premium increases
5. Contact a trusted broker
When it comes to finding the best personal medical insurance plan in Hong Kong, your best bet is to get in touch with a trusted broker like Pacific Prime Hong Kong. With nearly 20 years of experience matching expats with the best health insurance plans from over 60+ insurers, our advisors are on hand to not only compare and find you the most suitable options, but also assist clients with:
- Hospital info and recommendation
- Claims support
- Impartial advice
- Insurer negotiation
- And many more
When she's not typing away on her keyboard, she's reading poetry, fueling her insatiable wanderlust, getting her coffee fix, and perpetually browsing animal Instagram accounts.
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