Healthcare in Hong Kong
Healthcare in Hong Kong has been world class ever since the Hong Kong Hospital Authority took over the administration of its public hospitals in 1990.
The local population is among the healthiest in the world, with the life expectancy of women standing at 86 in 2012, and men expected to live to around 81 years. By comparison, the average life expectancy of the USA is about 79 years while the UK's average is about 81 years.
Both public and private hospitals in Hong Kong are equipped with the latest medical technology operated by highly trained doctors. The region also carries some of the world’s highest healthcare costs, however, just behind the US and China.
Public hospitals charge higher fees for non-residents, although most expats in Hong Kong only use private hospitals. It is important for expatriates to have insurance with an overseas insurance company, and to make sure a chosen hospital is included in the coverage (almost all Hong Kong hospitals are included).
Doctors in Hong Kong regularly speak English, and many have received training from Western universities. Individuals who do receive accreditation from abroad are, however, likely to charge higher rates than those with similar local degrees
Public healthcare in Hong Kong
The Hong Kong public healthcare system is made up of hospitals, day hospitals, specialist clinics, general out-patient clinics, Chinese Medicine and community outreach services. Residents with a Hong Kong Identity Card are entitled to subsidised service but those without residency have to pay market rates that are similar to what one would expect at a private hospital.
Most expats will say that the standard found in public hospitals is high but also feel that they can be relatively inefficient, and that service levels can improve. It is also worth noting that if somebody visits a public hospital in Hong Kong more than once, it is unlikely that they will see the same doctor twice.
Private healthcare in Hong Kong
Private healthcare in Hong Kong is popular with expats because they don't cost much more, the service is better, they don't wait as long and soft comforts such as privacy are more accessible. The special administrative region boasts 13 UK-accredited hospitals as well as an assortment of private practices and outpatient clinics.
Fees do tend to be slightly higher than in the public sector, and expats will have to organise some form of health insurance to cover costs. Health coverage is often included in employment contracts but expats who don't have such perks can, however, choose from a wide variety of service providers.
Healthcare programmes vary widely, so finding out what’s included in an employer-sponsored scheme is important and, for those securing a plan themselves, comparing quotes before settling on a service provider is a good idea.
Health concerns in Hong Kong
Air pollution in Hong Kong is arguably the region's biggest health concern. Despite the government's best efforts, pollution levels consistently fail the World Health Organization's safety standards. While new reduction targets have been set for 2015, many are skeptical of the problem being addressed as emissions from Southern China continue sweep through the city in a blanket of smog.
As a result, expats with asthma and chronic respiratory diseases often have aggravated symptoms. Children, the elderly, and those with vulnerable immune systems are most commonly affected, while even healthy foreigners may suffer from nose, throat and chest irritation. That said, most healthy people exposed to air pollution for a short time experience no lasting negative effects.
Otherwise, drinking Hong Kong’s tap water is generally safe, but expats should be wary of buying meats and seafood from local markets.
Emergency services in Hong Kong
Ambulances in Hong Kong are widely available and emergency ambulance services (EAS) as well as non-emergency services are available. Both government and non-governmental organisations provide services to Hong Kong residents including the Hong Kong Fire Services Department, Auxiliary Medical Services, the Hospital Authority and the St John Ambulance Association.
- 999 – Emergency hotline for ambulances, police and fire services
Private hospitals in Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3651 8888
Tel: (852) 2522 3141
Hong Kong Central Hospital
Tel: (852) 2522 3141
Matilda and War Memorial Hospital
Tel: (852) 2849 0111
Hong Kong Sanatorium
Tel: (852) 252 0211