Public healthcare in Hong Kong is administered both by the Hospital Authority, which manages public hospitals and outpatient treatment and by the Department of Health, which manages day to day public health including visits to a family doctor, maternity services and child assessments.
All legal residents in Hong Kong have access to heavily subsidised public healthcare through their Hong Kong Identity Card. Those who are not residents can access public medical facilities but they will be charged at market prices.
Public medical care is excellent, staff are highly qualified and public hospitals tend to be well equipped. Despite this, waiting times for general treatment as well as for elective procedures can be long and not all hospital staff may speak English.
All of the private hospitals in Hong Kong have been internationally accredited, guaranteeing that these hospitals maintain high global standards.
Although private healthcare can be expensive, most companies that employ foreigners either provide or contribute towards employee private healthcare insurance schemes. As insurance packages vary widely, expats should explore their private healthcare options, while negotiating with their employers in order to secure an ideal healthcare service.
The benefits of private care include significantly shorter waiting times to receive treatment, greater choice in choosing doctors and that a higher proportion of staff at private hospitals speak English. In addition to this, private hospitals tend to provide more privacy and personalised care, especially as these facilities often adopt a more service-orientated approach to healthcare.
Well-stocked pharmacies are common throughout Hong Kong, with many operating every day of the week. Although rarer, there are also some 24-hour pharmacies.
Pharmacies can also be found attached to hospitals, however these tend to only provide prescription medicine.
Although cases of transmission are extremely rare, adventurous eaters traveling to Hong Kong should ensure that they get hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations as these diseases can be contracted through contaminated food and water.
Otherwise, air pollution is a consistent and serious health concern. Air pollution often aggravates the condition of expats with respiratory issues, including asthma or respiratory diseases. It also effects the immune system and is especially damaging to children and the elderly. Much of this pollution comes from mainland China, which has frustrated the government’s attempts to reduce air pollution.
Hong Kong maintains a relatively quick and efficient emergency service. As with Hong Kong’s other medical services, expats can expect highly proficient ambulance staff.
Emergency services, which takes patients to public hospitals, are free and can be reached by dialing 999. The St John ambulance service, which can be reached by dialing 1878 000, also provides free emergency services and is able to drop patients at requested hospitals.