The Health Insurance System in Hong Kong

Understand which medical costs are covered by insurers and patients, and how to pay for medical care in Hong Kong…

Government Funded Healthcare

Hong Kong has a government funded public healthcare system. Healthcare policy is managed by the government's Department of Health. It oversees public hospitals and manages public health services. It provides subsidised preventative, curative and rehabilitation services to Hong Kong citizens.

Public funded healthcare is subsidised but not free. Anyone can access care but fees are much lower for locals and residents with a Hong Kong Identity Card. International students with a valid visa pay local rates. Taking out a healthcare insurance policy is strongly advised.

There are three types of fee charged by hospitals and clinics:

  1. Public charges for eligible persons. Eligible persons are defined as people who hold a Hong Kong Identity Card. All residents over the age of 11 should have an identity card. Resident children under the age of 11 and any other people approved by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority are also classed as eligible.
  2. Public charges for non-eligible persons. These are levied at all people who do not fall into the previous category.
  3. Private charges for people accessing services through private health care.

The fees charged to eligible persons are far less than to non-eligible persons. For example, going to an Accident and Emergency department will cost an eligible person $100 compared to $570 for a non-eligible person. Since 1 July 2007 an administrative fee has been added to late payments of medical fees and charges.

Fees can be paid in person at the accounts office of any hospital by cash, cheque or credit card. Payment can also be made at Accident and Emergency Registration counters when hospital accounts offices are closed. It is also possible to pay by post, telephone, via the internet or at banks.

Proof of the ability to pay, either by giving a deposit or a letter of guarantee from an insurance company is usually needed prior to a hospital admission.

Social Security

In Hong Kong social security services are provided by the Social Welfare Department. The social security system is made of a number of schemes:

  • The Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme (CSSA)
  • Social Security Allowance Scheme
  • Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation Scheme
  • Traffic Accident Victims Assistance Scheme
  • Emergency Relief

People who receive Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) do not have to pay fees for medical treatment. Assistance is also given to people suffering from chronic illnesses and the elderly. To be eligible an individual must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Have been a Hong Kong resident for at least seven years. Residents under the age of 18 are exempt from residency requirements
  • Pass a financial test based on their income and assets
  • Be actively seeking work if aged between the ages of 15 and 59

For information on social security see the Social Welfare website

Private Healthcare

Private Hospitals are regulated by the Department of Health. There are many private health care services available to people in Hong Kong including hospitals, clinics, Chinese medicine practitioners, doctors and other health care providers. People access these mainly through their medical insurance, which they either hold personally or through their employer.

Many full time jobs come with employer sponsored healthcare plans which can be supplemented to give higher levels of cover if an individual is willing to pay more. Although not compulsory, people are generally encouraged to take out some extra insurance cover as Hong Kong's medical fees are amongst the highest in the world.

Care should always be taken to check what is covered by an insurance policy. Many of these are expensive and the degree of cover provided varies dramatically between the different providers and policies.