How Can I Get Access to Public Health Care and Medical Service? Which One Should I Go To?
“Should I go to the government clinic or emergency room? I heard that the waiting time is very long…”
“Am I entitled to the service in public hospitals? What documents should I bring?”
You may have the above questions when trying to figure out where you can go for medical check-ups and treatment during your employment contract in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong health care system runs on a dual-track basis with both the public and private sectors.
The private health care sector, which is regulated by the Department of Health, provides a wide range of hospital and primary health service. The cost can be high when accessing it without health insurance.
|Here are some tips to bear in mind when considering using the private health care service. Go to their websites. Call directly to check about their appointment system, waiting time and service fee.|
The public health Care System in Hong Kong
There are two main public institutions, the Department of Health and Hospital Authority, that oversee health care in Hong Kong. The Department of Health manages clinics related to public health care. The most familiar one is Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHCs) which provides prenatal, postanal check-ups and immunisations. Women health service is also available there. That's where you can go for your pap smear.
Advanced booking is always required. Other services provided by the public health care system include travel health, child development assessment, dermatological care. Some of them would require a referral letter from a government clinic.
Hospitals or clinics?
The Hospital Authority manages public hospitals, general out-patient clinics and special out-patient clinics (Specialist). Emergency rooms are mostly located in acute hospitals. It is always a good idea to go to the one closest to your home. For any life-threatening and urgent situations, it is always recommended to seek medical help in emergency rooms.
You may ask, what happens if I have minor symptoms (episodic disease) or would like to seek medical advice for chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes? Your family doctor is a good choice. Another option is the General Out-patient clinic (or more commonly known as the government clinic or Jockey Club clinic).
Subsidised medical services are provided to HKID cardholders – including migrant domestic workers – with valid visas.
How do I book an appointment at the general out-patient clinics (GOPC)?
- Register yourself at the clinic near your home. The full list of all the GOPC in Hong Kong can be found here: (http://www.ha.org.hk/visitor/ha_visitor_index.asp?Content_ID=10052&Lang=ENG&Dimension=100&Ver=HTML)
- Call the booking hotline of your selected clinic to make an appointment. The telephone system will assign you with a timeslot 24 hours within your booking time. Some clinics have improved their booking system with their newly launched mobile application “HA Go”. Download and access the App if you prefer this option.
|One handy tip: Be patient. GOPC is very popular so you may not be able to get a timeslot as early as you'd like. Please remember to cancel the booking if you cannot make it, so the timeslot can be released to another person in need.|
Can I book Special out-patient clinics (SOPC)?
Unlike the private health care system, you cannot make walk-in appointments with specialists from the public health care system. Your private GP (family doctors) or the doctors at GOPC could help you make referrals to SOPC. When you have a referral letter, you can book an appointment with SOPC either in person or via their mobile App.
It is very common to have questions regarding health care access. You can call the government service hotline for enquiries, or approach community organisations for information and support.
If you are a migrant domestic worker and you have questions relating to pregnancy and maternity protection, you can get in touch with pathfinders. For other general health-related information, you can make enquiries to community organisations like Health In Action, HELP for Domestic Workers.
Pursuing good health and wellbeing should always be one of our primary goals in life. It is unavoidable that we would sometimes need medical advice and treatment. It is thus always helpful to be well-informed and prepared. Pay attention to your symptoms, choose a suitable option and seek appropriate health care advice. Ask your healthcare professionals when you are in doubt. Make an informed health choice and practise a healthy lifestyle in your daily life. Stay healthy everyone!
You can reach out to PathFinders for more information and support if you are pregnant or
planning to be pregnant during your employment contract.
Contact Number/WhatsApp: 5190 4886 (for Migrant Domestic Workers experience pregnancy and/or with child)
For more information, please visit:
Health In Action
HELP for Domestic Workers, Christian Action – Centre for Migrant Domestic Workers, and Mission for Migrant Workers can also provide you with general health access information. You can find the contact information of the above organization on the PathFinders'
Resource Card: http://www.pathfinders.org.hk/public/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-BILINGUAL_Resource-Card-Page-1-2.pdf