19Jan

Updated Guide to Hong Kong Healthcare

Hong Kong remains as one of the best providers of public healthcare in the world. However, as expats, it is always advisable to prepare one’s self with the proper insurance cover to for any unforeseen circumstances such as the need for repatriation or emergency surgery.

Hong Kong’s public sector has 42 public hospitals, 47 specialist out-patient clinics, and 73 general out-patient clinics, all organised into seven clusters according to their locations.

Here is an updated information on the country’s healthcare system as of 2018.

PUBLIC HEALTHCARE

Hong Kong provides residents with excellent and highly affordable health services. The life expectancy in the country is currently the world’s third highest and infant mortality is the ninth lowest. Here is the list of public health institutions.

DOCTORS

Finding your preferred doctor is easy; simply log on to the government’s Primary Care Directory and select your specialist. Antenatal and postnatal care, well women services and childhood vaccinations take place at 34 dedicated Maternal and Child Health Centres across the SAR.

When attending an appointment, you’ll be asked to register with your Hong Kong ID and pay a small fee, usually by cash or Octopus card.

There are also a good number of private healthcare practitioners in Hong Kong, and access to their services will depend in no small part on your individual insurance coverage. Some insurers provide a pre-approved list of doctors, whereas others will allow patients free choice of doctor according to their policy’s financial limit. Opting to visit a private doctor will usually mean that you can choose your specialist according to your own needs and schedule, with shorter waiting times than in the public system.

Make sure to ask your insurance provider and confirm your cover details as well as payment methods.

HOSPITALS

In an emergency, you’ll be transported by ambulance to the nearest public hospital for treatment. With 17 public hospitals across Hong Kong providing Accident and Emergency services, and air ambulance services available to assist with evacuation from Hong Kong’s less accessible regions, you’re never too far away from help. Hong Kong’s A&E care operates on a triage basis, and is charged at a flat rate of $100 per visit. Once assessed by a doctor, if you’re subsequently admitted to hospital, you’ll be charged a $50 admission fee, then $100 per day, payable by cash or Octopus card.

There are currently 11 private hospitals that are internationally accredited in Hong Kong. Most provide 24-hour outpatient services for urgent cases and can arrange transfer to a public hospital for accident and emergency services if deemed necessary. Many of Hong Kong’s private hospitals are renowned for their specialist areas of expertise, including obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics and ophthalmology, to name a few.

As with private doctors, you should always confirm the hospital’s billing process with your insurer, and check that any extras, such as medicines, private accommodation or out-of-hours surgery are covered.

To get the best insurance for personal or family cover, get in touch with us. We specialise in insurance for expats in Hong Kong.

13Jan

Common Expat Concerns After Arriving in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the safest cities for expats. There is also a large expat community providing an easier transition for people who move to the country as singles or with their families.

The biggest adjustment is often the language barrier but on top of that, there are other common concerns felt by expat. InterNations conducted a survey on November 2017 and these were identified as the most common concerns:

SOCIAL CIRCLES

Missing one’s friends is normal. But there is an expansive network of expats whom one can treat as their close support group. There are also numerous interest groups and organizations to join. In addition, social networks and instant messaging has made it easy to stay in touch with people back home. Setting schedules to chat or video call helps make the distance seem smaller.

Business culture with coworkers also falls under this category as Hong Kongers are known to be very serious workers. The most important thing to remember is to remain open and flexible with the local culture because it’s you who needs to adjust. You’ll find that the experience is more pleasant than what you may have initially assumed. One way to initiate social interactions with coworkers is adding them as a professional connection through LinkedIn. This establishes a professional yet approachable means of reaching out to people you work with.

GIVING BIRTH IN HONG KONG

Hong Kong has one of the top medical facilities in the Asia. Having a child is not so much the issue but rather making the choice of giving birth in a public hospital or subscribing to private health care.

Having health insurance that can cover $100,000 or more for prenatal and postnatal care implies checking into a private hospital so you can choose your own obstetrician, have a private room, and get regular check-ups with the same doctor. This is not to say that public healthcare is bad in Hong Kong. In fact, public medical facilities are quite advanced, however, one gains greater control over what happens to you with insurance and private care.

Village Insurance Direct is one of the few companies that help expats find comprehensive health insurance in Hong Kong.

GETTING A NANNY OR DOMESTIC HELPER

Expat parents don’t have to necessarily get a domestic helper or nanny but it is one of the normal practices for dual earning households. Having a nanny to take care of the kids instead of leaving them in a day care is preferred by more expats.

We’ve written a blog which provides useful information on the process and expectations when getting a domestic helper. You can read it here: Expat Guide: Hiring a Domestic Helper in Hong Kong

Note that employers are required to get insurance for domestic helpers. We also provide help in finding cheap insurance for expats.

IS IT WORTH LEARNING MANDARIN/CHINESE?

Taking on the challenge of learning a new language to better communicate with coworkers and new friends is worth the time and effort. Not only will it make life easier but you’ll find that you’ll be more open to exploring other activities outside of your comfort zone.

There are tutors that are available on an hourly basis. One can easily get an online tutor and conduct the lessons online to save the time of going to class. But learning is different for everyone so we recommend trying both to see which works for you.

Need help in finding personal, family, or business insurance? Contact Village Insurance for enquiries.

17Oct

What Insurance Do I Need Abroad?

Living a nomadic life can be an exciting one. The culture of traveling and living in a country other than your own is now more than just a trend but a life choice for many individuals and whole families.

On top of the usual preparations of finding a place to live, knowing where and how to reach the expat community and learning the culture of the country, you also need to make the necessary arrangements to prepare for the unexpected; health emergencies, financial fallbacks and other similar concerns.

The key feature of a good insurance for expats is mobility. Your insurance needs to follow you wherever you are. The second feature of a good expat insurance is that the benefits cover you and your family regardless if you are in the same country or not. And while it is seen as an added expense, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs because being far away from your country and the usual advantages that are given to its citizens may not be the same for every place.

Must-Have Personal Insurance

HEALTH INSURANCE

As an expat in Hong Kong, the number one type of personal protection we recommend is proper health insurance. Public healthcare in Hong Kong is one of the best in the world, however, it may not guarantee immediate and full care if you’re also waiting in line with many others who are also subscribing to public hospitals.

We wrote about the medical charges to expect in Hong Kong and compared the costs and benefits between private and public hospitals. This can give you a general idea of why you need private health insurance in case of emergencies.Remember that  the costs of even minor or routine medical treatment can quickly mount up. A benefit you must make sure is included is transport to a specialist unit and repatriation. You can lower your premium by opting to pay for any excess.

Critical Illness Insurance is also something for expats to consider if they are prone to serious ailments like cancer, heart attacks and other related diseases. Benefits of this policy will pay for therapy, drugs and other maintaining treatments. Some insurance policies may even cover death which means your families are left with a lump sum to pay for medical bills left behind.

We can help you find the right expat health insurance.

INCOME PROTECTION

This type of insurance can either be offered as a benefit along with your employment or you may choose to get one for yourself. This insurance ensures you have a monthly source of income in case you get into an accident or become gravely ill that you aren’t able to work for a period of time. We’ve also created an infographic showing How Income Protection Insurance Works. More importantly, this insurance takes care of your family when you temporarily cannot do so. We strongly recommend this to expats with children. Get in touch with us if you’re interested to see what options are available in Hong Kong.

LIFE

There are a number of good, affordable international life insurance policies for expats. This is usually a combination of two or more benefits such as critical illness plus total and permanent disability. It’s best to buy life insurance while you’re young because premiums are a lot cheaper. You can pay as little as US$33 a month and be covered for 20 years. We can also help find an insurance that suits your lifestyle and budget.

Remember that you need an insurance policy that is able to change as your circumstances change. Cost of premiums is also a crucial factor to consider so take your time when shopping for a provider. Evaluate your needs and determine your plans on a yearly perspective to see any drastic changes.

24Sep

Tips for Staying Fit While Pregnant

Exercise during pregnancy is different for every expectant mother. The most important tip to remember is to get clearance from your doctor before engaging with any type of fitness plan.

Women who regularly exercise and have been physically active prior to conceiving will more or less have zero issues with working in a fitness routine in their day. Walking is considered a safe and simple way to get one’s heart rate up.

CALORIE INTAKE

Although you are eating for more than one person, doctors advise that it is important to keep track of your pre-pregnancy weight to determine your required calorie intake to maintain your body’s and baby’s need for proper nutrition.

If your body mass index (BMI) is in a healthy range (between 18.5 and 24.9), you’ll need to eat about 340 more calories a day in the second trimester than before you were pregnant and about 450 more calories a day in the third trimester

PROPER WARDROBE

Stay comfortable by choosing looser fitting clothes that breath and regulates body temperature. Pregnant women tend to have higher body temperature and may overheat during a workout. In addition, make sure your maternity bra is supportive enough, and choose athletic shoes that fit properly. With your feet a little swollen than normal, choose footwear that is 1 to 2 sizes bigger.

EXERCISE AND STRETCHING HELPS WITH BACK & HIP PAIN

Common problems during pregnancy are increased lower back pain, pelvic instability, urinary issues, or reduced functional strength of the abdominal wall. Exercising during pregnancy helps reduce muscle tension. Prenatal pilates and yoga are popular fitness routines women can safely do to help with the usual discomforts of the condition.

STAYING SAFE WITH PROPER MATERNITY INSURANCE 

Maternity insurance covers costs for pre-natal and post-natal treatments. It also covers cost for natural or caesarean delivery where the latter can get very expensive without private insurance. Maternity insurance with extension also helps with costs incurred for fertility treatments and congenital birth defects.

Village Insurance provides help for expats in Hong Kong in finding the best maternity insurance for all of your needs. Get in touch with our agents for more information.

 

3Sep

How to Prepare Your Kids for Vaccination Day

For expat families, new challenges such as moving and adjusting to another country are already on top of old ones, one of which is keeping up with your kids’ vaccinations. If you’re a family with more than two kids, it can be quite the struggle to stay on top of who has had which vaccination and when they are due the next one. Having the right healthcare practitioner to seek professional advice and support from can make all the difference.

How to have stress-free vaccinations

Unlike babies less than a year old, children aged around 15 months and older need to be comforted when faced with the prospect of a visit to the doctor’s. While experts say that talking to your child beforehand isn’t likely to help, it is encouraged rather to psyche them up with the promise of a reward after the injections, such as a tasty snack, a new small toy, or a visit to their favorite play place.
It is also encouraged to explain to your child when they’re above two years old the importance of vaccinations and how it makes them healthy and strong. Liken the process as the reason how their favorite superheroes got their super strength.

One way to mentally prepare your child for their injections is to stay calm because children sometimes feed off of their parents’ moods. When they see that it’s not a big deal to you, it may help them relax. You can also distract them by talking about your plans after the visit instead of focusing on the visit itself. And never ever use a visit to the doctor’s as a form of punishment for bad behavior. It will just make it that much harder to do in the future.
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Family vacations are great fun but vaccinations are once again a needed precaution or requirement before travel to another country. Research on the recommended vaccinations for your child and for a particular destination, and getting the injections one to two weeks before travel are two very important things to consider.
As for diseases one can’t vaccinate against, such as malaria and dengue, preventative measures such as anti-malaria tablets, insect repellent, and wearing protective clothing should be prepared for as well.

Mandatory vaccinations are a duty

One may be aware of the ongoing argument of whether or not to vaccinate a child and it is very important to be on the side of medical professionals when it comes to mandatory vaccinations. Doctors all over can’t stress enough the importance of vaccinating and the claims that they cause autism are unsubstantiated. If one isn’t fully aware of how important vaccinations are, refusing to do so is likely to have consequences of epidemic proportions. One example is last year’s measles outbreak that started in Disneyland in California and spread to Washington and Colorado, and has since been proven to be the effect of low vaccination rates.

There is also currently a worldwide whooping cough (pertussis) epidemic, the worst in the last 70 years. Small babies who have not received their vaccinations are most vulnerable to the disease. However, ensuring that their pertussis vaccinations are up to date can greatly boost their chances of protection.

With the help of the right healthcare plan, preparing a child’s vaccinations doesn’t have to be a daunting task for any parent. Village Insurance Direct helps expats in Hong Kong find comprehensive health insurance that cover the whole family. Ask us about it today.

14Jul

The Importance of Critical Illness Protection

We never know when the worse can happen. One day we could be living normal loves when suddenly we’re told that we have a critical illness that can possibly take us away from the people we love.

Critical illness insurance is designed to protect you and your family from the impact of illnesses such as cancer, heart attack and stroke, and provide financial security in the face of a crisis. It gives you financial independence when you need it most. You need insurance not only because you are going to die but because you are going to live.

In the Middle East, the average age is 48 for critical illness claimants. One can even get a heart attack as early as 29.

These testimonial from Gary, an expat and insurance claimant is a story of strength and resilience we can all learn from:

PRIVATE MEDICAL INSURANCE VS. CRITICAL ILLNESS COVER

It is not unusual for people to be confused between critical illness cover and private medical insurance (PMI). While PMI might cover some or all of your medical bills, there tends to be an annual limit and you might also be required to co-pay a percentage of the bills. But it’s not just about the medical bills.

Reduced income

You may have to reduce your working hours, or stop working, which would result in a loss of income. In a report by Macmillian4 , almost one in three (30%) people living with critical illness experienced a loss of income as a result of their diagnosis. A third of critical illness survivors (33%) stopped working either permanently or temporarily, depending on recovery times.

Hidden healthcare costs

A significant proportion (41%) of people living with critical illness incur costs for other healthcare needs. These range from prescription medicines not included in personal medical insurance, clinical psychological services, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and dietetics.

Lifestyle costs

Over a third (37%) of people incur costs for replacement clothing due to rapid weight loss or gain, specialised equipment, and home modifications, such as wheel chair access.

Other costs

Some costs are difficult to quantify, such as regular trips to medical appointments, travel for specialised treatment, wigs or hairpieces due to hair loss, and increase in household bills such as utilities, groceries and telephone

24Jun

Inheritance Tax for Expats

Did you know that your beneficiaries may be charged a large amount Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill in case of death. The cost of IHT is almost as equally large as the amount being left. In 2012 to 2013, over £4 billion in inheritance tax was paid to the UK government including sums paid by expats from Hong Kong.

WHO WILL PAY FOR INHERITANCE TAX?

IHT liability is based on one’s permanent residence or domicile. There are two types of domicile: domicile of origin and domicile of choice.

A domicile of choice can be established if you can demonstrate that you have severed all connections with your “homeland” and established permanent ties elsewhere.

A domicile of origin may be challenge to change. Note that if you transfer one more time your domicile of origin will revive until you establish a new one. If you are domiciled in the United Kingdom, IHT applies to your global assets.If you are domiciled elsewhere, IHT is charged on your assets held in the UK.

IHT is charged through three main channels:

  • On your estate in the event of your death
  • On any gifts you present to individuals in the last 7 years of your lifetime
  • On any gifts to the most common type of Trust that you make through your lifetime

Everyone is entitled to make a certain proportion of gifts sans taxation and this is called the “nil-rate band”. Current cost is £325,000 which will remain so unti 2021. All excess above this band is charged at 40%.

Generally, property owners automatically follows the IHT net even before taking into account the total value of their investments. But note that it’s possible to reduce your exposure to this punitive tax.

Inheritance Tax is often treated as a “voluntary” tax because its impact may be mitigated. If you have large amounts of assets but don’t want to leave control over these or make gifts, you can still lower the cost of IHT by carefully planning your will.

LEAVING A WILL

Ensuring one has a will in place is a way to protect your loved ones from incurring impossibly high cost of IHT in the case where substantial assets are involved. For instance, a married couple and civil partners can do what the industry calls a “double up” on their nil rates and this implies that up to £650,000 can automatically pass free of IHT. One common myth about leaving your assets to your spouse or civil partner is that they get half if you die. This is not a fact.

Also, it is crucial to remember that minors cannot inherit money or property which means you need to assign someone to make the arrangements until they turn 18.The courts may choose this person for you if you fail to do so in your will.

Expats often have assets in parts of the world and all these have to go through the courts of the different jurisdictions. Delays can happen if one does not make the necessary arrangements in their will. There are also insurance that covers the cost of inheritance tax. Ask us about it. We help expats in Hong Kong.

30May

Expat Guide: Why You Need International Health Insurance

Hong Kong’s medical facilities and inpatient services is one of the best in the world. It is also one of the reasons why it is considered an expat hub in Asia. As a foreigner in a top global city, should you consider international health insurance?

The simple answer is YES.

SPEND LESS ON PRIVATE FOR HOSPITAL CARE

International private health insurance covers a bulk of the expense should one choose to go to a private hospital. Without a Hong Kong ID card, public health care could be a challenge especially for fatal injuries or chronic illness. Although public hospitals and their doctors are world-class in Hong Kong, immediate and consistent attention to your needs as a patient is better guaranteed with private health insurance.

COMPLIMENT YOUR MOBILITY

Expats often find themselves traveling to other countries on top of the new country they have chosen to reside. International health insurance follows you wherever you are and it till give you peace of mind in situations where local hospital may be unable to provide for your needs. The advantage of having this type of insurance is also having glocal service from your provider’s customer support so you know exactly what your policy can cover.

EMERGENCY EVACUATION

This is one of the best features of international health insurance. For expats who live in high-risk areas or live active lifestyles that may hold more risks than usual, getting covered for emergency evacuation could be what separates you from life or death. Repatriation cover allows expats to be flown back to their home country if necessary.

SUPPLEMENT FOR YOUR COMPANY-PROVIDED INSURANCE

Check if the company health insurance covers for family members or for chronic diseases. If you have special medical needs and your company insurance does not cater to its treatment, an international health insurance cover should be able to take care of what’s lacking.

OTHER HEALTH COVER

This health insurance policy is generally comprehensive and can cover maternity and cancer treatment. It all depends on your needs as well as your family’s. Village Insurance Direct helps expat find the affordable and complete international health insurance from established providers in Hong Kong.