Monthly Archives: November 2010

Oh So That’s How Healthcare Works in Hong Kong (A Basic Primer)

I was recently asked to research and explain how Hong Kong’s healthcare system works for my firm, so I thought I’d share that with the rest of you too.  Below is my basic memo on the matter:

Hong Kong has both public and private health care systems. Hong Kong’s public health care system is subsidized through general revenue taxes, and to a limited extent, fees and charges generated by its own provided services. Private health care is funded from individuals out-of-pocket, privately purchased health insurance, or employer-provided medical benefits.

The chart below, taken from the Hong Kong government website (http://www.gov.hk/en/residents/health/hosp/overview.htm#main) illustrates how healthcare is organized in Hong Kong:

Overall structure of the healthcare system

Anyone in Hong Kong may take advantage of the public health care system. However, fees for “eligible persons” are substantially lower than those for “non-eligible persons.” For example, a visit to the hospital for an accident or emergency is only $100 HKD ($12.90 USD) per attendance for eligible persons versus $570 HKD ($73.55 USD); general out-patient fees are $45 HKD ($5.80 USD) for eligible persons versus $215 HKD ($27.74 USD) for non-eligible persons per attendance. This difference in fee can be substantial in particular cases; for example, in-patient fees for eligible persons are $50 HKD ($6.45 USD) admission fee plus $100 HKD ($12.90 USD) per day versus $3,300 HKD ($435.80 USD) per day!

Generally, only holders of a Hong Kong Identity Card issued under the Registration of Persons Ordinance is considered an eligible person. In rare cases, the Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority may make an exception.

Private health care providers in Hong Kong are regulated by the Department of Health, but these practitioners, as well as 13 hospitals, set their own fee schedule. Those who choose private health care do so because it allows for choice of doctor, shorter wait times, and better amenities. Charges are, however, substantially higher. In-patient fees for private hospital patients range from $380 HKD ($49 USD) to $980 HKD ($126.45 USD) per day, and does not include fees for services such as medicine, dressings, and doctors’ daily attendance fees, which is all-inclusive in public hospital in-patient fees.

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Life After the OLQE, Part I: A Full Time Job!

The OLQE had taken over my life since returning from New York last July.  My prep course began the week I got back (with just one day off due to a Signal 8 typhoon), and what was 7 hours of class a week quickly grew to 11.   But since the OLQE ended, life has suddenly gone into the fast lane — it’s insane what a difference a year can make.  Just one year ago this time, I was getting acquainted to a brand new country, figuring my way around, making new friends (many I still know today, and similarly many whom I have no idea as to their whereabouts).  Not only was I living in a serviced apartment that felt very temporary, but I had no idea as to how to pursue work here.

Questions that I needed to resolve were – what can I do here with my current skills? What additional skills should I be building to get a job here? How should I go about finding a job here? Do I really want to work in Hong Kong?  What is it like working here?  How will I bear being so far from friends and family?

I’m not sure if I can wholeheartedly answer any of those questions, but after a year of pusuing those answers, here I am, a little over a week at the office!  I officially began my job in late September, but the office had not been built out yet, and with the two OLQE heads I had to take in late Oct and early Nov, I was rather preoccupied, especially while I was on my official 2-week study leave.

The Monday after my last exam, the physical office space officially opened for our use, and here we are, a week and a half later!  I am enjoying the people I work with and learning a lot in my multi-faceted role which mixes up administrative duties with business development and legal research/lawyering.  I’m happy to not jump straight into legal work after such a long break, and am contemplating a future outside of that of lawyer per se.  The start-up nature of my job also leads me to wonder about starting up my own business some day as well. 

Overall, I’m learning quite a lot in a positive working environment with some very smart and nice people.  In many senses, this is precisely the sort of thing I was looking for in life after all that turbulence and instability.

There’s still lots to get used to of course — funny how a day job can feel like such a time suck after being a so-called lady of leisure for so long.  I am trying to rebuild my work wardrobe within budget while suiting what appears to be a higher standard of business attire in Hong Kong.  I haven’t really cooked in an eon pre- and post- OLQE and still unsure as to how to fit in regular gym time — so I’m afraid my body must hate me now!  By the weekend, I am pretty much feeling spent and wondering where all the time goes for me to take care of my household chores.  Oh the working life!

But the good definitely has outweighed the bad — and best news of all — I’ll be back in beloved New York in a few short weeks!! The firm is flying all of the Hong Kong office to New York for the firm holiday party! I’ve arranged to work from the New York headquarters the week of, and am so excited to see friends and family much earlier than anticipated. 

What more — my trip coincides with my friends Jeremy and Katherine’s baby shower!  J&K are my first “primary tier” friends having children (yes, children — twins!!), and since hearing the news a few months ago, have been very excited.  Wow, we’re all growing up for real now, huh?

I Need Me Some COLD!!

Halloween has come and gone, and it was only just recently did the weather finally cool down(we’re talking temperatures in the low 20s — Celsius).  Back in New York, I’d cling onto the very last ounce of Summer, refusing to swap out my flip flops til my toes were frozen.  The day I had to put on a jacket was a sad one, in spite of Autumn being my favorite season of the year.  It’s just that Summers in New York are so precious — free concerts and movies, swing dancing at Lincoln Center, Shakespeare in the Park, ice cream, vacationing — all that good stuff.  So why am I so excited to get me a bit of cold here in HK?

The heat is just way too long here!  “Summer” weather starts as early as April-May, and humidity spikes from June through September, so with such weather conditions  carrying on until late October, it gets tiresome.  Also, cool weather signifies lots of important seasonal changes — back to school, leaves turning, my birthday.  So when it takes THIS long for cooler weather to arrive, I just don’t quite feel right, and all those seasonal changes are oh so important.

I know there will still be a handful of randomly warm days where I will bust out the flip flops and probably wear a tank top without any other covering too, and I’ll appreciate it, but without the cooler air, I feel stuck in time — so I welcome it at long last!

[Did I never mention how obsessed I get with the weather in HK?]