3Oct

What are 5 tips for saving money on health insurance?

Hong Kong was recognized as the nation having the world’s most effective healthcare system in 2019. Both the public and private sectors have access to top-notch hospitals, cutting-edge technology, and highly skilled medical professionals. Hong Kong currently boasts the second-most expensive healthcare system in the world, only after the United States, thus this excellent quality of care also comes at a hefty cost. How can you reduce these costs, then?

Here are 5 tips to make sure you’re only spending what you need on health insurance.

1. Shop around for health insurance quotes. There are many different health insurance providers available, and the prices can vary greatly. Compare quotes from different providers to find the best deal.

Signs to look for when it comes to a good health insurance cover include:

-A provider with a good reputation.
-A provider with a wide range of cover options.
-A provider with good financial stability.
-A provider with a low premium price.

2. Consider using a health insurance discount. There are many health insurance discounts available, and finding one that is suitable for you can save you money.

Some common health insurance discounts include:

-Special discounts for members of particular health insurance schemes.
-Discounts for people who have a certain level of health insurance coverage.
-Discounts for people who live in a certain area.
-Discounts for people who are aged over a certain age.

3. Review your health insurance policy regularly. Regularly reviewing your policy will help you to identify any changes or updates that may need to be made, and will also help to ensure that you are fully covered.

Some things to look out for when reviewing your health insurance policy include

-The cover that is available to you.
-The exclusions that are included in the policy.
-Any changes to the premium price.
-Any changes to the cover that is available.
-Any changes to the conditions that are included in

4. You might think about choosing a co-insurance or annual deductible if you want to save money on your health insurance plan without sacrificing complete coverage. Your annual premium will drop dramatically if you choose one of these options.

The amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance plan will begin to cover medical costs is known as a deductible. For instance, you have to pay the first $1,500 of your insurance’s coverage out of your own pocket before it starts to pay for your medical costs. Once you have paid the annual deductible, which is typically per year, any medical expenses that are covered by your plan will be fully reimbursed. If your work currently offers medical insurance but you would like to supplement your coverage and raise your level of benefits, taking on a deductible can be very appealing.

Choosing a co-insurance percentage is another way to pay a lesser premium. For instance, if you select a 20% co-insurance percentage, you will be responsible for 20% of all out-of-pocket medical expenses while your insurance will pay the remaining 80% in full.

5. Most health insurance providers give their customers the option of having private rooms available to them if they are hospitalized. Even while some extra comfort and privacy are necessary if you have to spend the night away from home, opting for a semi-private room would ultimately result in lower hospital and surgical costs.

The cost of a hospital stay will be reduced if you choose a semi-private room or a ward (which you may share with three people or more) if you don’t have access to private medical insurance or if your coverage for hospitalization and surgery has a low cap.

For example, a private room costs HK$3,300 per night at the Matilda Hospital, a well-liked private hospital among expats, whereas a night in a ward only costs HK$900.

In addition, hospital expenses and doctor fees are assessed independently in Hong Kong. This implies that the physician’s costs will be more expensive the higher the room standard. By selecting a shared room, you can reduce your costs while still receiving the same level of services.

In summary, you can save money on health insurance by researching different providers, reviewing your policy regularly, and choosing a co-insurance or deductible. By taking these simple steps, you can save money on your health insurance premiums.

13Jun

The Value of Digital Health Services Post-pandemic

The pandemic has altered the way health care is given.

Insurance providers have reacted to the rising demand for digital and virtual GP services by developing products to fit customer needs.

Such programs have really taken off in terms of providing mental health support to consumers and those who have been affected by long Covid, and advisers recognise how crucial it is for clients to have access to them.

But, once Covid infection rates start to drop back, and restrictions are lifted entirely, will consumers continue using such solutions in the same way, or will they opt for face-to-face treatment as the country seeks to reclaim normalcy?

Increased Demand for Online Services

 

Jennifer Gilchrist, protection specialist at Royal London told Health & Protection said, “We’ve seen an increase in demand for digital health services coming out of the pandemic and people are becoming more used to virtual methods of accessing services.”

Gilchrist also added that many insurance providers devised more online and virtual capabilities quite quickly which has accelerated the digitalisation of an industry that’s been heavily reliant on more traditional processes when compared to other industries.

Ian Ranger, head of claims and medical underwriting from Canada Life also agreed and noted that a provider’s virtual support service was becoming part of customer expectations.

Health propositions lead at Aviva UK Health, Nina Brown, shared that for the first quarter of 2022, providers observed the average number of online appointments rise to 7,200 per month, with March seeing a record 8,500 appointments carried out.

Last October 2021, the average number of online appointments made was around 5,000 a month. These numbers are clear indications of continuing growth. Given this, healthcare providers, as well as insurers, need to respond to the demand and adapt.

Two factors must be kept in mind when innovating products/services:

1. speed
2. convenience

Less intrusive services and encourage patients to reach out more readily

 

The awkward waiting time at the doctor’s office or the energy-draining commute to the clinic can hinder some people to seek care. However, online services take away these factors and allow more people to reach out for mental health checks.

Virtual consults give plenty of breathing room for patients and lessen the anxiety some may feel when going to a therapist. Conducting a session in one’s comfort zone eases away a good chunk of the tension so there is more focus on more pending matters.

As the number of cases grows, digital delivery of services means long-term Covid patients don’t have to travel for treatment, as Dr Julie Denning, managing director of return-to-work rehabilitation firm Working To Wellbeing, points out.

“Those who have complex therapeutic demands, like those receiving cancer treatments or recovering from prolonged Covid,” Denning explained, “digital delivery means they don’t need to make additional travels outside of their home when they may be feeling exhausted, in pain, or concerned.”

The Demand for Digital Services is Unlikely Waning

While companies are making moves to return to work or have a hybrid setup, what healthcare providers and insurance can expect is the steadfast need for fast and convenient online services regardless of loose or non-existent restrictions.

Patients have realised the value of such services and there is very little sign of going back from this point forth.

 

19May

Can You Over-Exercise?

Isn’t it true that exercising is always beneficial? Not necessarily. What matters most for your heart’s health is doing the right amount of exercise for you as an individual.

We’ve all heard it before: the more exercise we get, the better.

Exercise has two sides. We all know that regular exercise makes you feel better and happier, and it is linked to a longer life. In contrast, we’re learning more about the impact of exercise on cardiovascular health – the heart and blood vessels. In fact, the medical speciality of sports cardiology has recently emerged. It’s studying the cardiovascular systems of professional and amateur sportspeople. It was discovered over the last ten years that the amount of atheroma (heart artery blockage) in a person’s arteries is linked to their weekly exercise intensity and duration.

So what happens if we over exercise?

When you exercise, your body becomes inflamed, especially if you do extreme exercises. The system becomes overly activated. This can also cause collateral damage to the arteries, allowing cholesterol to enter the artery walls and form clogs. The flip side is that, because of the health benefits of exercise, most blockages never get too big.

So, for cardiologists – and everyone else – the challenge is to figure out what degree of exercise is safe.

A lot of individuals do not experience a problem developing within their body until they begin to experience symptoms. The condition may be quite advanced by the time they feel that something might be wrong.

Some of the physical symptoms from over-exercising include:

-Excessive fatigue
-Injuries, such as stress fractures
-Dehydration
-Lack of appetite
-Poor sleep quality
-Muscle soreness

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to take a break from your workout routine and restore your body to its natural state.

Finding balance

It’s a question of input and results in this case: there is a threat, but also an advantage. Despite the fact that there is no evidence that exercise kills, you can still benefit from it. If it makes you feel better and helps you get in better condition in general, it will help you live longer.

There should be a knowledge of the relationship between intensity and duration of exercise and degree of artery damage. Identify if you’re at risk and move from there.

Who is most at risk from over-exercising?

There is no definitive answer to this question as the risks associated with over-exercising can vary from person to person.

However, those who are most at risk of damage from over-exercising are usually people who are already in poor health, have a history of heart problems, or suffer from conditions such as diabetes or hypertension. Additionally, older people who were active in their younger years may also be at risk, as they may not be able to handle the level of activity they once did.

What can you do to protect yourself from over-exercising?

The best way to protect yourself from the dangers of over-exercising is to be aware of your own limitations and exercise within them.

Need help finding the right health insurance for pre-existing heart conditions? Get in touch with us today. We specialise in finding the best policies for expats in Hong Kong.

8Apr

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 supplementary? 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 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 international health insurance that follows you wherever you will give you peace of mind in situations where a 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.

29Mar

Infographic: Threats to Hong Kong’s Life Expectancy

Hong Kong is currently the country with the highest life expectancy in the world. Access to public health and healthy living is among the best worldwide, however, factors threaten to displace their ranking.

The infographic below discusses these factors.

13Sep

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.

19Nov

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.

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.