Healthcare in Hong Kong
 

Expats moving to Hong Kong are likely to have easy access to high-quality healthcare. Apart from issues related to air pollution, the region presents few health hazards. Pharmacies are abundant and emergency services have fast response times.

Both private and public healthcare are excellent and easily accessible. Residents of Hong Kong enjoy heavily subsidised care at public facilities, while those with the appropriate insurance often opt for the greater convenience of private care.

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Public healthcare in Hong Kong is administered both by the Hospital Authority, which manages public hospitals and outpatient clinics, 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 subsidised public healthcare through their Hong Kong Identity Card. Those who are not residents can access public medical facilities, but they will be charged market prices for treatments.

Public medical care in Hong Kong 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 speak English.

All of Hong Kong’s private hospitals are internationally accredited, guaranteeing that they maintain high global standards.

Although private healthcare can be expensive, most companies that employ foreigners either provide or contribute towards employee private health-insurance schemes. As insurance packages vary widely, expats should explore their options while negotiating with their employers in order to secure the best healthcare service possible.

The benefits of private healthcare include significantly shorter waiting times, greater choice of doctors and a higher proportion of English-speaking staff. In addition, private hospitals tend to provide more privacy and personalised care, especially as these facilities often adopt a more service-orientated approach.

Well-stocked pharmacies can easily be found throughout Hong Kong, with many operating every day of the week, some of them open 24 hours. Pharmacies can also be found attached to hospitals, but these may only provide prescription medicine.  

If bringing prescription medicine into Hong Kong, expats should keep it in its original packaging and keep the original prescription handy. It’s also a good idea to have their doctor write a note explaining any health conditions or concerns an expat might have when moving to Hong Kong.

Although cases of transmission are extremely rare, adventurous eaters travelling to Hong Kong should ensure that they get hepatitis A and typhoid vaccinations as these diseases can be contracted through contaminated food and water. It’s also recommended that expats be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before travelling to Hong Kong.

Air pollution is a consistent and serious health concern. It often aggravates the condition of expats with respiratory issues, including asthma. It also affects the immune system and may be especially damaging to children and the elderly. Much of this pollution comes from mainland China, which has frustrated the Hong Kong government’s attempts to reduce air pollution.

Hong Kong maintains fairly quick and efficient emergency services. As with Hong Kong’s other medical services, expats can expect highly proficient ambulance staff.

Public ambulances are free. They take patients to public hospitals, and can be reached by dialling 999. The St John ambulance service, which can be reached by dialling 1878 000, also provides free 24-hour emergency services and is able to drop patients at requested hospitals.