Hong Kong’s Changing Health Insurance Marketplace

A changing insurance landscape is bringing a wider range of higher quality health insurance coverage, with a greater variety of choice, than ever before to Hong Kong's locals and expats.

11 Jun 2018 — / Essential HK / Lifestyle
medical staff pushing gurney in hospital

Obtaining a “good” health insurance policy is often a top priority for many expatriates in Hong Kong. Whether the plan is provided by an employer, or purchased on a private basis, families and individuals want to know that they are able to access a high standard of medical treatment in the world’s second most expensive healthcare market.

Until very recently this has meant the purchase of costly international health insurance policies, as the majority of locally underwritten Hong Kong medical insurance plans were simply too unwieldy to use when needed despite their lower cost.

However, a changing insurance landscape has seen the emergence of more robust local health insurance options and lower-cost international products; giving both expatriates and locals access to a wider range of higher quality coverage, with a greater variety of choice, than ever before.

Introduction of “Unlimited” Coverage Limits

One area where local health insurance products have seen a major overhaul is the introduction of unlimited annual coverage by insurers. From BUPA to CIGNA, products are now available on the market which will not limit your ability to claim for treatment; offering you the peace of mind that you are able to receive the medical treatment you need when you need it.

This is a substantial departure from the previous paradigm of locally underwritten Hong Kong health insurance products offering coverage only through the stringent utilization of sub-limits – severely restricting the actual coverage that you would receive under the policy by determining whether medical procedures were “Minor” “Major” or “Complex” and capping the limit for your coverage depending on that determination.

While sub-limit plans still exist, the emergence of “Unlimited” products brings the market more into line with international standards, while generally being accessible at a much lower price point than a full blown International Private Medical Insurance plan.

Offering Deductibles on Local Products

This may seem like a very straightforward change, but historically almost no Hong Kong health insurance products have allowed a policyholder to include a deductible on the plan. On virtually every plan offered by a major international health insurance provider outside of Hong Kong, policyholders will be afforded the option of choosing whether to include a deductible or co-insurance in their coverage.

A deductible or co-insurance represents the total contribution that a policyholder would be expected to make towards the cost of their own medical treatment. For example, a plan with a $100 per year deductible would require you to pay for the first $100 of medical treatment you receive, with the insurer paying for any additional costs over $100.

Including a deductible can be a great way to lower the overall cost of your health insurance policy. But this option hasn’t been given to the local insurance market until very recently, and even then only a very limited number of health insurance providers are offering deductible options. However, the fact that deductibles are starting to appear should be a welcome change for policyholders as it allows them to access ever greater variety with regards to their Hong Kong health insurance plans.

Flexible Coverage Limits

Another change which has recently been seen is the introduction of flexible coverage limits, meaning that you are able to choose the overall protection you receive each year under the plan.

In direct contrast to the “unlimited” protection we highlighted above, some International Insurance companies operating in Hong Kong are now starting to offer the choice of how much protection you receive. A perfect example would be the re-introduced coverage options from French health insurance provider, Henner.

Henner has only recently re-appeared in the Hong Kong health insurance market but has also brought a fundamental change back with them giving policyholders the ability to choose the amount of protection they receive.

As with deductibles this can be a fantastic tool with which to lower the overall cost of your health insurance coverage, while receiving the ability to access superior doctors and hospitals. Opting to go with a lower level of coverage can mean a significant discount on the total premium you would pay, and can be especially useful for individuals who are relatively young and healthy and who would only need the most bare-bones “catastrophe” coverage.

Couple the ability to choose your overall annual policy limit with a competitive deductible or copay and consumers then start to enjoy the accessibility of high-quality health insurance plans which may have been too expensive for them previously.

An Evolving Marketplace – for the Better

While we have only highlighted 3 areas in which change has occurred within the Hong Kong health insurance market, 2018 has seen a raft of innovations which have made coverage solutions both more robust and more affordable for policyholders locally.

With the emergence of new plan types on the market, and the re-introduction of insurers who had ceased to offer coverage to individuals and families domestically, there are now ever more options available from which to choose – enabling you to find the plan which best meets your specific healthcare requirements (along with your specific budget).

For more information about how to access these new Hong Kong health insurance developments, or to receive a free Hong Kong Health Insurance Quote, contact CCW Global today.

 


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