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Healthcare in Hong Kong
Hong Kong: Treatments and Appointments
Sooner or later it may be time to see a doctor in Hong Kong. Before that time comes, you should be aware how to get an appointment at a doctor’s office, know the emergency numbers, and be aware of traditional Chinese medicine. Read our guide and learn all about seeing a doctor in Hong Kong.
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Traditional Chinese Medicine
Although conventional medicine is generally accepted by everyone in Hong Kong, consulting a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine is still very popular. Several local universities have departments devoted solely to teaching and researching Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese Medicine uses an approach which is fundamentally different from that of conventional Western medicine. It is based on the philosophical concept that the balance within the human body is maintained by an energy called “chi”.
Imbalances in the system are resolved by measures such as herbal therapy, acupuncture and Qigong exercises. In 1999, the government established the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong with the goal of protecting public health and consumers’ rights. The council regulates the practice of Chinese medicine practitioners and the use, manufacture and trade of Chinese medicines.
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Sickness Allowance Regulations
If you fall seriously ill, you might have to make use of Hong Kong’s sickness allowance regulations. During the first 12 months of employment, you are entitled to two paid days of sickness allowance for every completed month of work. After the first 12 months, paid sickness allowance is extended to four days per month. You can only accumulate days of paid sickness allowance up to 120 days. During your sickness allowance, you are paid at least 80% of your average daily wage. In order to receive this sick-leave allowance, you have to provide your employer with a medical certificate.
The telephone number of the emergency service in Hong Kong, including police, fire service, and ambulance, is
- 999 if you are calling from a landline or fixed line
- dial 2961 8989 to contact the Hong Kong Department of Health
There are 16 public hospitals in Hong Kong which supply 24/7 accident and emergency services. Ambulance response times and emergency services are comparable to Western standards. There is also a system determining the relative priorities of patients to make sure those with the most serious injuries are treated first. Most private and public doctors also have an emergency phone number so you can reach them outside of their regular office hours. You can learn more by reading our guide on safety in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong Medical Association provides a directory of general practitioners and specialists in Hong Kong. In this directory you can not only find contact details, but also further information on each doctor which you might find useful, such as the doctor’s qualifications, spoken languages, and the cost of a general consultation. The directory allows you to search for both private doctors and doctors in public health clinics. Alternatively, consult the yellow pages of your phonebook for a doctor in your area. Your home country’s consulate in Hong Kong may also be able to provide information on general doctors and specialists.
If you choose to see a doctor in a private clinic, register once you arrive and show your insurance card. If you have private health insurance, you usually need to pay the fee on the spot and claim reimbursement from your insurance later on. Bear in mind that there are many doctors and hospitals that do not accept credit cards. For more costly medical treatments as well as hospital stays, you can arrange with your insurance company to pay all relevant fees directly to the hospital. If you need any medication, the doctor can either give it to you directly, or you have to pick it up at one of the registered Hong Kong pharmacies. For more serious medical conditions, a general practitioner will refer you to a relevant hospital or specialist.
When using the public health system as a Hong Kong resident, be aware that there may be long waiting times at health clinics. Also make sure to bring your Hong Kong ID card, as this proves you are eligible for public health treatment. During your first visit to a public clinic, the doctor will give you a small booklet which contains all of your personal data and health records. You need to bring this booklet every time you are going to see a public healthcare service.