China’s Greater Bay Area plan could increase HK outbound medical travel

An article in says that waiting times for treatment in Hong Kong public hospitals has increased outbound medical travel to Taiwan. It suggests that, with China’s plans to improve connections between more of the cities in the Greater Bay Area, there will be even greater pressure on Hong Kong hospitals. Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan could all benefit from more Chinese medical travellers as a result.

The article claims it is a well-known fact in Hong Kong that the waiting times for some specialist procedures in the city’s public hospitals could stretch into months, or in some cases, even years. It says that the average queuing time for specialized medical service was 116 weeks, or 29 months, according to the Hospital Authority. The longest waiting time could go up to 166 weeks, or 41.5 months, which means nearly three-and-a-half years.

The article says that compared to other cities in China’s Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong is undoubtedly the best when it comes to the quality of its medical personnel. As China pushes stronger links among the Bay Area cities, it says that some Hongkongers fear the 60 million people elsewhere in the neighborhood could end up pressuring Hong Kong’s resources and medical infrastructure further, undermining the interests of city’s own 7.4 million residents.

The article states that, as of now, 90% of the medical service in Hong Kong is provided by the city’s public hospitals, which are known to be good, except for the long waiting times. Private healthcare is also among the best in the world, it claims, but the service comes at a very steep price.

With people unable to get specialised medical treatment quickly at government hospitals and the private hospitals seen out of bounds due to cost factor, one can expect more and more Hongkongers to seek cheaper service elsewhere in the region.

Places such as Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan will reap more medical tourism benefits, as waiting times in Hong Kong hospitals could stretch even longer in the years to come.