Expats in Hong Kong shun private health insurance

International health insurance in Hong Kong

Many expats are opting out of international health insurance schemes as the cost of premiums rises.

Many expats living in Hong Kong are abandoning international health insurance options in favour of local coverage. According to online international insurance provider, Globalsurance, this trend is a direct result of 10 years of increases in international health insurance premiums. Premiums have risen at a rate of roughly 10% per year, themselves a result of increased medical inflation in the city.

Hong Kong is currently the second most expensive place for medical treatment in the world, only just behind the U.S. The charges associated with various treatments at Hong Kong’s private hospitals can be seen in a scenario involving maternity care. Delivery of a child at a hospital like the Matilda, Hong Kong’s leading maternity services provider, can easily reach HK$156,000 – 234,000 (US$20,000 – 30,000) even if there are no complications. A private room at this same hospital will run the patient HK$5,935 (US$761) for a single night.

Over the last 10 years, disposable expatriate income in Hong Kong hasn’t risen at the same rate as the cost of medical inflation. The premiums charged on international health insurance, however, have risen accordingly. This puts pressure on the premiums as the non-adjusted loss ratios are not economically feasible.

With a large proportion of expat residents in Hong Kong choosing a local insurance alternative, Globalsurance predicts a overhaul of the private international protection plans available in the city. Potential restructuring may include the provision of selected service providers, given that private medical facilities in Hong Kong are some of the most expensive in the world. This would lead to less comprehensive healthcare options for individuals but would reduce premiums.

Any new evolutions of the international private insurance market in Hong Kong will need to compete with the large local players as well as providing superior care at affordable prices. These changes would potentially affect the number of expats opting for local health insurance in the future.