For families in Hong Kong the cost of healthcare services can come as something of a shock. It often seems like the private doctors recommended by friends cost an arm and a leg to use; especially when you feel like you’re constantly there dealing with endless runny noses, sore ears, and high temperatures. Our team at CCW Global have a wealth of experience in guiding expat families through the process of choosing child health insurance, and these are some of the issues that parents often want to learn more about.
Public Healthcare in Hong Kong
While we’re lucky to have a decent public healthcare system here in Hong Kong, which comes at a fraction of the cost of private treatment, many families worry about ‘going public’. Extensive waiting times, communication difficulties, and awkward locations are some of the issues often encountered. And while favoured private doctors may be expensive, they tend to be more conveniently located and offer a more in-depth service than their public counterparts.
This, amongst other factors, leads many families to prefer private medical services in Hong Kong, especially when it comes to ensuring their children are in the best possible health. And, because of the costs of private healthcare, health insurance is worth considering as a way to protect your bank account.
Obtaining Child Health Insurance in Hong Kong
Children can be included in a family health insurance plan with their parents, or they can have a health insurance policy purchased which covers them on an individual basis. In terms of obtaining coverage for an infant, there are actually a number of options – especially if you are looking to get insurance for the child at birth with a Maternity health Insurance plan.
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Maternity Insurance New Born Child Protection
If you own a maternity insurance policy it’s normal that your coverage will provide you with at least one option to cover your to-be-born infant. There are two typical ways in which Hong Kong health insurance plans will offer coverage to newborn children; having the child Born into a Plan, or having the child receive a Free Benefit from its parents’ insurance.
With a Free Benefit the newborn will be treated up to a pre-determined date or spending limit, after which parents will need to obtain insurance for the child.
Being Born into a Plan means that because the infant is born directly into an existing policy they will never have a pre-existing medical condition – ensuring that even if there is a serious medical condition present at birth, it will be treated.
Child Health Insurance for Babies & Older Children
Health Insurance plans are normally provided to children on an individual basis after the age of 3 months; however, there are situations where children younger than 3 months of age may be able to have health insurance purchased for them.
Coverage available under a child health insurance plan (whether with the family or as an individual) can include:
An inpatient coverage benefit will form the basis of all Hong Kong health insurance plans and will protect the child against the costs of healthcare which requires an overnight stay in a hospital. This means that relatively common childhood inpatient treatments such as a Tonsillectomy for Tonsillitis, and Grommet Surgery for severe cases of Otitis Media would be covered, as would unexpected hospital stays as a result of accidents and injuries.
While many children will never need inpatient treatment, if it is needed it can be extremely expensive. A single hospital inpatient procedure can actually be more expensive than all the General Practitioner visits an individual will have during the course of their life!
Once the child has obtained inpatient insurance protection they are normally able to access a range of extended coverage options.
Normally available in addition to a policy’s inpatient coverage, an Outpatient insurance benefit will protect the child against the costs of healthcare where an overnight stay in hospital is not required. This can include things like going to see a General Practitioner, consultations with an Ear Nose and Throat Specialist, and receiving diagnostic tests such as X-rays or CAT Scans.
While the costs associated with outpatient medical treatment will normally be much lower than the costs of inpatient care, it is normal that individuals (and children especially) will receive far more outpatient medical treatment than inpatient care. And while the costs of each individual consultation will be relatively low, a number of visits to the doctor can quickly start to hit your bank account. A HK$ 1,000 doctor’s appointment may not seem like a large amount, but if that is a monthly (or even weekly) visit due to a child’s medical needs then over time it may be inconvenient to constantly cover the fees.
Vaccination Insurance Coverage
Supplied by the outpatient benefit of certain Hong Kong insurance plans, a Vaccination coverage benefit ensures that your child is protected against the costs associated with receiving vaccinations. This is very important as failures to vaccinate children are leading to increased incidents of diseases which have been brought under control since the middle of the 20th century (including Measles, Mumps and Rubella).
If a policy’s outpatient benefit provides coverage for vaccinations then it will typically cover the costs associated with vaccinating against diseases including:
- Hepatitis A, B and C
- Tetanus and Diphtheria
- MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella)
- HPV (Human papillomavirus)
It is worth noting that Hong Kong does have a public vaccination system that all residents can access free-of-charge through their local Maternal and Child Health Centre. However, for parents seeking greater comfort and convenience, or who wish their child to have vaccinations not covered by the local vaccination schedule, private cover is worth considering.
Choosing an Insurance Policy that Fits Your Family’s Needs
Whether you are trying to obtain health insurance coverage for your child from the moment that the baby is born, or you are purchasing a health insurance policy at a later stage in the child’s life, there are a range of options available to ensure that you are comprehensively protecting your child and enabling them to receive the best care possible.
From Outpatient to Dental protection, it is often possible to create and tailor a plan to meet your specific requirements, ensuring that your child is always properly protected. However, due to the extensive range of options which exist, it is important that, as a parent, you fully understand the benefits and drawbacks to any Children’s Health Insurance policy you are considering purchasing in Hong Kong.
Talk to as many experts as you need to, and take the time to shop around; when it comes to your child’s medical insurance protection you should ensure that you are comfortable relying on the policy you purchase for many years to come.
You could start by contacting the expert team at CCW Global who would be happy to answer any questions. We work for you, not the insurance companies, and will listen to your needs to ensure you get the most appropriate policy for your family’s situation.