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Maternity Costs in Hong Kong Rising Sharply

Categories:Health Insurance, Healthcare, Hong Kong, Maternity, Medical Insurance, News |Published on May 20, 2013

The costs of delivering a child at a Hong Kong Private Hospital have risen by up to 49 percent in 2011, according to a recent report by the Hong Kong Consumer Council, sharply outpacing actual medical inflation in the city, which is typically 15 percent per year.

In 2007 the Government of the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong legislated a mandatory fee of HK$ 39,000 on all non-resident mothers wishing to give birth at a Hong Kong Public Hospital. The legislation was intended to dissuade an increased number of pregnant Mainland China residents from using Hong Kong healthcare facilities to deliver their children, freeing up more space for local Hong Kong mothers and going some way toward alleviating an increasing burden which was being placed on the city’s public healthcare system.

The legislation did not enforce any mandatory costs for pregnant women giving birth at a Hong Kong Private Hospital.

Despite the mandatory booking fee imposed by the HKSAR government, the number of foreign nationals seeking to give birth in a Hong Kong public hospital has increased since 2007, to the extent that an approximate 50 percent of all births in the city are from non-resident or foreign national mothers.

With an estimated 92,000 non-resident mothers seeking delivery options at a Public Hospital in Hong Kong in 2011, these facilities have had an increased patient burden placed on them which they are struggling to deal with. This has forced many pregnant women who would have otherwise utilized a Public hospital to deliver their child to consider alternatives at one of Hong Kong’s Private maternity facilities.

However, as with Public Hospitals the demand for maternity services at Private facilities is also increasing. Unlike Hong Kong’s Public medical system, where healthcare costs are monitored by both the Hospital Authority and The Department of Health, the Private medical system in the city charges for healthcare services in line with demand for services and medical inflation.

Consequently higher demand has lead to higher prices, which have caught some patients by surprise.

The Private Maternity Hospital with the highest price increases is Precious Blood Hospital in Sham Shui Po, which charged 48.9 percent more for maternity services in 2011 than it did in 2010. One expectant mother who opted to use Precious Blood Hospital to deliver her child was quoted an initial price of HK$ 45,000. When the final bill for the maternity costs arrived, however, the hospital had levied a final fee of HK$ 70,000 for all services.

HK$ 5,000 of this fee was attributed to the fact that the mother had a Caesarian Section (or C-Section) one hour earlier than scheduled, at the request of the doctor. Shockingly, HK$ 15,000 of the bill was due to “administration fees” for the hospital. Other charges included HK$ 66 for medical gauze, HK$ 3,000 for baby care, HK$ 1,500 for an extra five hours of fetal monitoring, and HK$ 500 for “painless” childbirth after normal working hours.

Precious Blood is not alone in increasing the prices for Maternity Services. Other hospitals which increased the costs of delivery include The Baptist Hospital with a 31.1 percent increase, and St. Teresa Hospital which increased 30 percent. At the lower end of the spectrum, St Paul’s Hospital increased maternity costs by 6.5 percent. The increases were levied in regards to a 3 night maternity package with the exception of Precious Blood, where the figure was for a 2 night maternity package.

Hong Kong Sanatorium Hospital was the only private maternity hospital to not increase the charges associated with maternity this year.

The increase in fees for Maternity services in Hong Kong Private Hospitals has lead to calls for the private medical system to be more transparent in the way in which it charges patients. However, there is a clear trend that maternity costs are increasing and that patients wishing to give birth in a Hong Kong Hospital, whether private or public, should consider obtaining some form of Hong Kong Maternity Insurance Coverage to ensure that they are able to cover the ever increasing costs associated with having a child in the city.

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