A little about Hong Kong…
Hong Kong exists under a “One Country, Two Systems” with China, which allows for it to have considerable financial, legal and legislative autonomy whilst remaining under the protection of the Chinese forces. As well as being an economic investment powerhouse, Hong Kong also acts as a hub for international trade - 3.2% of the world’s total, ranking 7th globally despite its size (2017). A former British colony, it is made up of 263 islands - the most famous of which are: Hong Kong island, Kowloon peninsula and Lantau island. Despite a population fewer than 7.5 million people, Hong Kong more than packs a punch on the international stage.
Now that you know a bit more about the country, let’s give you a run through on how their healthcare system works.
1,2,3...5,6 - can’t you count?Don’t be surprised if you see buildings that don’t have a fourth floor, the word for four sounds like the word for death in Chinese and is believed to bring bad luck.
Smells goodHong Kong is believed to have come from the Chinese words; heung and gong. These literally translate to ‘fragrant harbour’, describing the former main export of incense and spices.
City JungleHong kong is home to the highest number of skyscrapers in any city around the world with 1200 - that’s four times the number of New York!
Hong Kong Health System
Hong Kong offers one of the best healthcare systems available in the Far East, offering substantial healthcare services that are heavily subsidized by the state, to go alongside the private health services. The system includes 41 public hospitals, 12 private hospitals and over 100 public clinics. Before you come to Hong Kong, it is important that you understand the key differences between the public health insurance and the private health insurance, so that you can make a decision of which is best for you. Luckily, we have simplified it for you below.
Public services in Hong Kong are not free, but thankfully payments are pretty low due to heavy government subsidies. The public services are available to the following categories: resident card holders (to which all of those who possess a Work VISA are entitled); child residents of Hong Kong under the age of 11; anyone with special permission from the CEO of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. To qualify for the public service during your time there, you must first obtain a local ID card. Keep in mind also that by law if you are planning to stay here for any more than 6 months, then you must get an ID card. For more information about the ID card, please visit: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/services/hkid/general_info.html
If you plan to work for a larger company, many of them offer private medical insurance for you and your family as a benefit within your employment contract. Even if this is not an option offered by your company, we still suggest that you take out private health insurance instead of attempting to qualify for public insurance. The reason for this is that the public system suffers from a number of disadvantages. a) There are long queues on account of the heavy strain on the system meaning that unless you need emergency care, you might have to wait for months or even years depending on the urgency of your condition. For example, seeing a cataract specialist has a waiting list of about 20 weeks, but to get surgery on it, you might have to wait about 3 years. b) A regular GP or PCP in Hong Kong is a luxury. If you use the public system you will be asked to go to whoever is available. This massively inhibits your treatment, as you are constantly trying to bring new doctors up to date on your situation. c) Comfort and language difficulties. In a private hospital, you can expect English-speaking doctors as well as 5* accommodation instead of the dormitory environment of the public hospitals.
What type of VISA do I need?
We hope that helps you decide on which type of insurance you would like to go for, but now let’s explore which VISA option best suits your needs.
This is the most common work VISA. To apply for it, you need to have had an official job offer from an employer in Hong Kong, and they in turn must have proved that a local candidate could not have been found. There are two criteria that you must fulfill. Firstly, you must have an academic degree and experience in a profession that is lacking in the country. Secondly, your new monthly salary must be HK $20,000 or more. The VISA is valid for 1 year and after that you can extend it if you meet the extension criteria.
This VISA is designed for those entrepreneurs who intend on starting a company in Hong Kong. To qualify for this VISA, you must prove that your company is going to contribute to the country’s economy, as well as the fact that you have qualifications, experience and professional abilities that will enable you to set this company up in the first place. Like the work VISA, it is valid for 1 year and can be renewed if you meet the criteria.
If you meet the criteria for this VISA, you can look for a job in the country or start your own business, without a previous job offer. There are a number of requirements however: a) You must be aged between 18 and 50. b) You must be able to cope financially in Hong Kong even without a full-time job. c) You must not have a criminal record. d) You must have a high level of English or Chinese (Cantonese). e) You must have a degree. In addition to these minimum requirements, other factors are taken into consideration. These include; job experience, current occupation, relevant education, your age, whether you have relatives in Hong Kong, your spouse’s profession, how many kids you have and much more.
Permanent Resident Status
Once you have worked (with one of these VISAs) in Hong Kong for 7 years, you can then apply for permanent resident status.