14Nov

Successful out-of-country childbirth

Giving birth in a different country requires plenty of preparation. Expats living abroad with their families need to ensure that there is a system is in place for a safe delivery to avoid unexpected expenses and inconveniences during such an intense period.

You can read more about the expense side of childbirth in our blog Expecting a Baby in Hong Kong.

The one plan to rule them all

“The best offence is a good defence” is the key to avoid as many of possible worst case scenarios. At this point, your answer to medical emergencies should always be preparedness.

The most crucial first step is to have a birth plan drafted out at the start of your pregnancy. This includes:

  • Getting to know your hospital of choice ahead of time
  • Familiarizing yourself with your new doctor
  • Knowing what you are looking for is a hospital

Hong Kong has one of the best healthcare systems in Asia and finding a hospital that suits your needs is relatively easy for many expats. Public and private hospitals provide excellent services so it’s usually a matter of preference and expense when it’s time to decide.

Choose your obstetrician wisely. If you have health insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth, double check to see if they cover the hospital that you’ve chosen. Check the hospital’s proximity to your home and find alternative routes for different traffic conditions.

Common Complications

We do what we can to make sure the child is in good health during pregnancy. However, there is always the possibility of complications. Common issues to prepare for include:

  • Umbilical cord issues
  • Perineal lacerations
  • Abnormal fetal heart rate
  • Amniotic cavity problems
  • Failure to progress

C-section birth may be required during these situations and making sure you’re financially covered for this major operation is also a crucial part of the birth plan. Check with your expat health insurance provider if they cover this emergency expense.

On new territory

Pregnancy and childbirth make one of the most intimate and unforgettable experiences of life. The logistics leading up to them could be just as complicated as it is memorable, but it’s all worth it in the end.

We help expats find the best health insurance that covers maternity in Hong Kong. Get in touch with us for inquiries.

28Oct

Updating Your Health Insurance

As we go through different phases of our lives, so do our needs for health insurance cover. Does your current plan still cover your needs or are there parts of the policy that are not longer needed?

Health insurance covers must also adjust to the rest of your family member’s needs which is why it’s important to check with your provider every two years.

Here are questions you should ask when reviewing your policy:

  1. Is my policy limit enough to cover my needs and my supplementaries? There are policies that offer unlimited annual policy offers.
  2. Do you have plans of moving or traveling more frequently? This means you might need a health insurance policy that covers the places you will be traveling. There are international health insurance covers that follow you wherever you are and plans that excludes the US or UK.
  3. If you’re married and have a growing family, is your insurance plan able to adapt to maternity and child needs?
  4. Do you need to add a policy for pre-existing, mental, hereditary, congenital and chronic conditions?
  5. If you have a policy taken care by your current employer, you also need to evaluate if you’ll need a separate private medical insurance if there are plans of changing jobs. 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.

AS AN EXPAT, CONSIDER INTERNATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

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.

As an expat, you need to foresee if you will be moving in the next years and having an International health insurance that follows you wherever you will 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 local service from your provider’s customer support so you know exactly what your policy can cover.

Ask your insurance provider about your current policy. It is also crucial that you do your own research especially if you’re paying a substantial amount for medical insurance you yourself and your family.

 

5Oct

Is C-section the way to go?

In this day and age, Hong Kong stands strong in offering a lot more than tourist attractions and sparkling history. On par with many first-class countries, it prides itself with an excellent healthcare system. For both its residents and expats alike, it has become the place of choice for maternity and childbirth, owing to the structure in its services.

The Hong Kong health system, like many others, is categorized into two: the public and private sectors.

Being a Hong Kong resident with an “identity card” provides you with numerous benefits, including full utilization of their public health system.

Some say that it gets trickier and more complicated when it comes to foreigners, but there’s always no reason to feel lost and left out. Local or not, there’s nothing a good preparation can’t solve.

Adjusting to a childbirth in a foreign country is the first step. As mothers near their delivery, the next logical step is to figure out whether a C-section or classic delivery setup is the way to go.

Crunching the hard digits

In general, the World Health Organization suggests a 10-15% rate in C-section deliveries vis-à-vis a country’s healthcare status.  Since last year, numbers of C-section deliveries have been steadily increasing around the world. Currently, the Dominican Republic holds the top spot with 56.4%. According to this October 2018 research, Hong Kong currently has a Caesarian birth rate of 35%. It stands toe-to-toe with other countries like Turkey and Brazil, who each report rates of over 45%.

The good versus the bad

It is the expectant mother’s choice as to how she wants to have her baby delivered. However, in some cases, it is the doctor’s call whether to perform the surgery or not, particularly when the necessity arises in the situation.

C section deliveries are beneficial for mothers who are unable to bear the stress of the labor process. It is also recommended if more than one baby will be delivered. The procedure helps minimize the risk of having the baby contract a disease from passing through the vaginal area.

However, it also offers a balanced number of downsides. Mothers who opted for the surgical process tend to stay longer in the hospital for recuperation. There is an increased risk of pain or infection following the surgery and soreness is almost guaranteed. Staggering levels of blood loss may also provide low levels of Hemoglobin.

The rates

As an invasive procedure, C-section deliveries generally cost way more than vaginal births. Rates within Hong Kong vary with different hospitals, ranging from standard HK$ 17,000 to pricey lengths such as HK$ 141, 000 for high-tier private hospitals. As of June 2018, for example, the fee for a C-section surgery in St. Paul’s Hospital in Causeway Bay starts at HK$ 18,000 versus their fee for a vaginal birth which starts at HK$ 15, 000.

Ultimately, the choice rests upon the mother’s shoulders. There may be slight differences between private or public hospital settings but one thing remains the same: This is Hong Kong, and both options carry a high standard when it comes to medical care.

Village Insurance Direct provides expats in Hong Kong with health insurance that covers maternity expenses. Contact us for more information.

15Jul

Why More People are Choosing to Travel Alone

Traveling solo at least once in your life can be one of the most liberating and eye-opening experiences. The Internet has changed the culture of travel by becoming a platform for awareness of different exotic places as well as increased the urge to share our personal lives with friends and strangers. A large group of the expat community in Hong Kong live this kind of life and they would be the first people to attest to the value of exploring new territories on your own.

We are only young and strong once in our lives and getting invaluable life lessons by traveling is a chance we should take when it presents itself. So why are more people traveling solo?

1.       You have no one to worry about but yourself.

The comfort of having zero responsibility to anyone is a needed break from our busy work lives. This makes it easy for you to plan your journey and you have the freedom to make any change without a second thought. Do everything you want and nothing you don’t want.

2.        Experience real local life.

Traveling with other people does not often elicit a need to dive deeper into a country’s local culture because you already have people you can talk to and engage. However, being alone in an unfamiliar place pushes you to connect with your immediate community because these are the people you can possibly turn to in case you need help. You are also more uninhibited about impressions towards you because no one really knows you. Learn the language, break your routines, live a different life.Quote_imge_2,1

3.       Make new friends, or don’t.

Meet fellow expats and travelers or choose to be antisocial. It’s really all up to what you feel like doing. Hunt for hole-in-the-wall cafes and enjoy being with your own thoughts or go out at night and create a new network of interesting individuals at your own pace.

4.       It makes you more resourceful and confident.

Leaving your comfort zone increases your threshold. Hesitation is normal especially for anyone doing it for the first time but once you find yourself backpacking through the countryside or ordering your meal with broken local language, your self-assurance instantly gets a boost and you will discover things about yourself you have not yet realized. Most expats have said that after their first solo trip, they made sure that they would be able to do it again.

5.       The trip is more profound.

Whether you hated the place you visited or fell in love with the country and the people, the experience is an unforgettable one mainly because it’s solely yours. The satisfaction of checking off an item from your bucket list and having done so on your own is incomparable.

Make plans, break itineraries and gain more perspective from people and places. Try it at least once. And if you do decide to go for it, don’t forget to secure proper Travel Insurance for yourself. Get a Third Party Comprehensive Travel Insurance Plan to get covered for more risks—from loss baggage to repatriation in case of any medical emergencies. We can help.

Good luck and safe travels!

13Jun

Types of Medical Charges for Hong Kong Residents

There are three types of charges in Hong Kong hospitals based on whether it is for public or private health care. Your status as a resident is also a factor for the fees you should expect for medical services from hospitals.

You are required to have an Identification Card when living for an extended period of time in the country. This card entitles you to access the country’s public health facilities among other government services. Hospitals will determine the amount of fees and charges to issue patients based on two categories: (1) Eligible and (2) Non-eligible.

To be considered Eligible you should be:

  • Holders of Hong Kong Identification Card issued under the Registration of Persons Ordinance, except those who obtained their Hong Kong Identity Card by virtue of a previous permission to land or remain in Hong Kong granted to them and such permission has expired or ceased to be valid;
  • Children who are Hong Kong residents and under 11 years of age; or
  • Other persons approved by the Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority.

Any expat or resident that do not fulfill the abovementioned requirements are automatically considered Non-eligible.

Hospital fees and charges under public and private healthcare facilities will also depend on your eligibility. There are three types of charges in Hong Kong hospitals.

The rates below are based from information from the Hospital Authority.

Public Charge for Eligible Persons
Service Fees
Accident & Emergency $100 per attendance
In-patient (general acute beds) $50 admission fee, plus $100 per day
In-patient (convalescent, rehabilitation, infirmary & psychiatric beds) $68 per day
Specialist out-patient (including allied health services) $100 for the 1st attendance, $60 per subsequent attendance, $10 per drug item
General out-patient $45 per attendance
Geriatric, Psychiatric & Rehabilitation day hospital $55 per attendance

 

Public Charge for Non-eligible Persons
Service Fees
Accident & Emergency $990 per attendance
In-patient (general hospitals) $4,680 per day 
In-patient (psychiatric hospitals) $1,940 per day 
Intensive care ward/unit $23,000 per day
High dependency ward/unit $12,000 per day
Nursery $1,110 per day
      Obstetric care $39,000 – $90,000 (1-2 nights)
Specialist out-patient (including allied health services) $1,110 per attendance
Day procedure and treatment at Clinical Oncology Clinic $800 per attendance
General out-patient $385 per attendance

Here is a list of public hospitals in Hong Kong.

Private Charges
Service Fees
In-patient (acute hospitals)

  • 1st class
  • 2nd class
  • $5,640 per day 
  • $3,760 per day 
In-patient (other hospitals)

  • 1st class
  • 2nd class
  • $5,610 per day 
  • $3,740 per day 
Intensive care ward/unit $14,600 per day 
Nursery $925 per day 
In-patient consultation (per specialty) $680 – $2,780 per visit
Out-patient consultation (per specialty)

  • Initial consultation
  • Subsequent follow up consultation
  • $680 – $2,160 per attendance
  • $555 – $1,420 per attendance

Here is a list of private hospitals in Hong Kong.

As one you can see health care is expensive in Hong Kong. This is why we at Village Insurance Direct recommend expats to get Health Insurance for more comprehensive care from a private health facility, minus the worry of soaring fees and charges. While public hospitals are equipped to manage numerous emergency situations having that peace of mind at times of unforeseen circumstances is one you must aim for when in a foreign country. This is especially a concern for expats with families.

12Feb

Mental Health for Expats: Reducing Stress & Anxiety After Moving

The importance of paying attention to one’s mental health is now more crucial than ever. Expats in particular deal with different forms of stress and anxiety. Research has shown that a major life transition such as geographically moving from one’s native country to a different one is one of the top causes of stress and anxiety–along with death of family and divorce.

Expats deal with moving from one location to another every 3 to 4 years and this is on top of adjusting to a new job, new people, and culture. The lack of a stable support system such as one’s usual friends and family makes it all the more challenging to manage the mental and emotional tolls from such situations.

What’s the difference between stress and anxiety?

Stress comes in anticipation of a threat. It’s a physiological response. Excessive adrenaline is produced by the body, our heart rate increases and muscles become tensed. Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to hypertension and high blood pressure and for expats, the source is more often emotional and psychological.

Identifying the trigger is easier when we feel stress but catch it early. When we feel anxiety, there is usually no trigger we can identify. We just know we are worried, uncomfortable, and preoccupied with our thoughts. This is the difference between stress and anxiety.

Dealing with stress…

Evaluate your physical condition. Are your shoulders tensed? Is your breathing shallow? These are physical manifestations of stress. To help you slow your breathing, try these techniques:

Take 10 deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling out your mouth. Your belly should expand with every inhale. Focus on your breathing and you should feel your mind slowing down after the 10th exhale.

You can also try deep breathing while clutching a pillow on your chest. Squeeze as tightly as you can when you breath in. Release and breath out.

Running to release tension is also an alternative if you are looking for a high impact activity.

These simple techniques are not the sole solutions but they will help you manage yourself better more quickly.

What about anxiety?

The unknown is the most probable cause of anxiety among expats. It’s a lingering feeling of restlessness or nervousness. In order to start dealing with the situation, it is important to acknowledge the thoughts that continue to bother us. Let these thoughts pass by our minds, and let them go.

Letting go of the thoughts does not equate to inaction but it will help you have have a clearer perspective on which decisions are more important and which ones are merely thoughts.

If no changes are felt or noticed, seek the help of a mental health professional. Here is a list of private psychiatrists in Hong Kong.

Check your health insurance plan if they cover therapy and maintenance drugs. You can also choose to upgrade your existing medical insurance to cover your needs. Contact us to learn more about insurance for expats in Hong Kong.

4Feb

Do I Need Life Insurance After Retirement?

Retirement does not always equate to having financial stability. A few possible circumstances that leaves you in this kind of situation are:

Forced retirement

Failed investments

Providing financial support for an aging family member or children who are still living at home

If you find yourself in debt or  responsible for someone’s well-being, then the short answer to the question is, “YES” you need life insurance even after retirement.

HOW MUCH INSURANCE DO I NEED?

It’s important to evaluate where you stand financially upon retirement. How much are your monthly expenses? Are there federal or state taxes that need to be paid? There are also things like probate costs, administration costs; there might be final debt or a mortgage on house, too. So as long as there is some type of financial exposure, you need life insurance to match up with that.

CAN I STILL GET INSURED AFTER RETIREMENT?

Yes. Of course, premiums will be higher which is why it’s advisable to get life insurance cover as early as your 20s or 30s. The greatest value of life insurance after retirement is that surviving family members or your spouse is left with financial security after the insurance holder’s death.

WHAT OTHER BENEFITS ARE THERE IN GETTING INSURANCE AFTER RETIREMENT?

Other benefits is that you can use the sum to help you pay for medical expenses–this is if you feel that you will no longer need the death benefit. This is called the accelerated death benefit provision. You have the option of choosing permanent life insurance to have money safely tucked away with zero risks.

You may also need to think about getting health insurance since more seniors are prone to health complications–thus more spend on medical needs. Although Hong Kong has a wonderful healthcare system, retirement will most likely lead to more trips to the hospital and getting more prescription drugs to maintain your health.

Ask us about more details on life insurance or health insurance or email us at info@villageinsruancedirect.com.

 

20Nov

Updated Information on Hong Kong Healthcare

Updated info on healthcare in hong kong

Hong Kong remains to have one of the world’s best Public Health Care Systems however it is still advisable to supplement ourselves and our family with the convenience of additional private health insurance. Here’s updated information for your options in order to make the best choice when it comes to healthcare for expats in Hong Kong.

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 (http://www.pcdirectory.gov.hk/) 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.