Healthcare in Hong Kong is considered to be excellent by international standards. Life expectancy is high and infant mortality is low. Many people tend to use both western treatment methods as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to heal and balance the body.
Since the Hong Kong Hospital Authority took over the management of public hospitals over a decade ago, tremendous strides have been made to further improve the quality of healthcare. The levels of service, both in availability of newer technologies and access to quality care can now be considered on a par with highly developed countries.
Medical practitioners are now trained with “good practice”. Good practice means that they are required to have active participation in training as well as continuing education, clinical audits, attendance of clinical management meetings, community care participations, and contributions to clinical research, teaching and data.
There are 56 hospitals in Hong Kong, all with A&E units and general practice. Of these, 12 are private hospitals and 44 are public hospitals that come under the Government Hospital Authority.
Private practising doctors have their own consulting clinics but use hospital facilities for surgeries and other treatments. Most of the doctors are local Chinese, with some foreign. Almost all of them have overseas qualifications. Some hospitals have specialisations, such as coronary care or oncology centres and some, like the Adventist Hospital, offer classes to combat stress, aid weight reduction and to quit smoking and alcohol.
There are three kinds of medical treatments in healthcare: primary (general practice, from coughs to immunisations), secondary, and tertiary (illnesses that require long term hospitalisation or rehabilitation).
Most private hospitals have primary and secondary medical services. The government-run healthcare centres cover all three types, and some hospitals only specialise in tertiary care for chronic conditions.
Generally speaking, Hong Kong’s healthcare is quite good and the standards are comparable to some major European cities. Both private and public systems are available. For those normal day to day complaints, expatriates can seek help from their private medical practitioners and the cost of these may be fully covered by employer provided health plans. These employer provided health plans vary tremendously, in both the amount of coverage and the restriction on the choice of doctor.
For more serious issues such as child birth and surgery, some expatriates make use of public hospitals.
While most expatriates are fine with seeking medical advice from local medical specialists, there are some who still insist on being treated by western doctors. Expatriates who prefer to be treated by western doctors should be aware that they will be paying large fees for such a service. A lot of doctors in Hong Kong earned their medical degrees from top universities in the United States and other western countries. In essence, finding a local western-trained doctor is not difficult at all. However, these western doctors are likely to charge more than double compared to a local doctor who has similar qualifications and expertise.
In relation to medical equipment, Hong Kong is the one of the leading manufactures of state of the art medical supplies and accessories.
Although Hong Kong has excellent doctors and hospitals equipped with the latest medical equipment, there are some things that expatriates should be aware of. There have been some recorded incidents of over-prescribing. These prescriptions are generally for minor colds and other similar ailments. However, the local government has dealt with these issues properly and there has been a great decline in the number of reported cases. However, the problem may still exist.
Hong Kong and China are second only to the United States for having the highest medical costs in the World. For expatriates that live and work here, or are planning to settle down, private health insurance is strongly recommended.