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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