Ok, this is the last thing I’ll say about health care, in Hong Kong or otherwise. First, I heartily recommend last week’s This American Life episode about the exploding costs of health care.
Said episode prompted me to ask my pregnant friend about the costs of maternity care in HK. Her first baby was at a public hospital, and the second one will be in a private one. A number of things surprised me about our conversation:
1. The costs were much less than I expected, even at the fancy private hospital on The Peak. An average normal delivery here in a private hospital runs between HK $60,000 and $100,000, which is about US $7500-13,000. That includes a 3 day stay, doctor’s fees, epidural and anesthesiologist’s fees and pediatric care. I don’t know how much insurance paid for our delivery of Finn in the US, so maybe these costs are comparable (anyone know?), but honestly, US $10,000 seems sort of cheap. It’s not cheap, I know that, but that’s the point.
At a public hospital, on the other hand, for people with an ID card, it truly is cheap–between HK $1000-$10,000 (if in a private room), which is about US $100-1200. Lots of people choose a half/half option, going to a private doctor for prenatal care and then delivering in a public hospital. Private prenatal care runs between HK $10,000-20,000, which is about US $1280-2560.
2. The costs, both for prenatal care and for the delivery packages, are readily available. Hospital websites have them posted as well as online forums like geobaby. Maybe you can find a breakdown of the prices for medical services in the US, but I’ve never seen one. Having insurance meant I never cared what the cost was for a service, I just cared if it was covered.
3. One practice I find appalling here is that some doctors (and hospitals) charge more for their services if you use a private room rather than a shared room–up to twice as much. The only thing I can chalk this up to is pure greed–how could it possibly cost more to care for a person in a private room? You already pay more, of course, to the hospital for the private room, which makes sense. But to pay more for the doctor’s fees, for the delivery, for the epidural, for the anesthesiologist? That’s crazy.