Paying for healthcare
Resident foreign nationals (in other words, expats with visas who haven’t lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years) get to enjoy the same level of medical care at the same cost as permanent Hong Kong residents.
It costs around HK$50 for a standard outpatient appointment, excluding any additional treatment or medication.
However, if you don’t have a valid Hong Kong ID then you could end up paying considerably more: HK$445 for an outpatient appointment and HS$1,230 for emergencies (which is why having a good health insurance policy in place is so important).
Employers in Hong Kong have to provide health insurance for their employees by law, but it’s important to check how much cover your employer’s policy gives you.
In Hong Kong, doctors both prescribe and dispense medication – there’s no separation between doctors’ practices and pharmacies.
If you’re prescribed any medication at a clinic or hospital, the consultation and prescription fees are combined when you pay.
As an example, it costs around HK$300 to HK$500 for a three-day prescription of cold medicine.
If you need a repeat prescription, you’ll need to make another appointment so your doctor can check and dispense your medication at their clinic.
Pharmacies and over-the-counter drugs
There are almost 600 licensed pharmacies in Hong Kong, which you can identify by looking for the “Rx” symbol on their storefront. They are usually open seven days a week between 10:00 and 19:00, but hospital pharmacies operate 24 hours a day for emergency cases – every district has at least one 24-hour pharmacy.
In Hong Kong, drugs are divided into three categories:
- Category 1, which can only be purchased at a licensed pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription (for example antibiotics and tranquilizers)
- Category 2, which can only be purchased at a licensed pharmacy but you don’t need a prescription
- Category 3, which can also be bought at other shops without a pharmacist such as supermarkets (for example sore throat medication)
The most common drugstore chains in Hong Kong are Mannings and Watsons, where you can also buy cosmetics and other general healthcare supplies.