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19 April 2022

Traditional Chinese Medicine in Health Insurance

Chinese medicine

In the fight against Covid-19, an unusual and unexpected hero may be emerging – Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to a recently released report by the World Health Organization, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been found to be clinically relevant to treating mild-to-moderate cases of the virus. Following this news came the revelation that Hong Kong may be poised to become a global hub for Traditional Chinese Medical services.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, has long been a critical component of Hong Kong’s healthcare system and a normal part of life for many of the city’s residents. It is even a common, but overlooked benefit on many Hong Kong and International Health Insurance plans.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Covid-19

Traditional Chinese Medicine saw increased demand when local supplies of pain medication and fever reducers dwindled earlier this year. Many Hong Kong residents chose to investigate TCM treatments in an effort to find some relief from their COVID symptoms. With the continued impact of the “5th wave” of COVID in Hong Kong, protocols for the application of four different types of Chinese Medicine Treatments were drafted for use in the city.

The demand for TCM treatments has risen steadily since early 2020 with the initial global covid outbreak as access to both private and public medical services diminished. As a consequence of this demand, Chief Executive Carrie Lam stated that the government would explore allowing TCM practitioners to prescribe diagnostic tests, including X-rays and blood work, for patients. It was also revealed in April 2022 that some of the barriers to entry for TCM practitioners may be removed, enabling more individuals to take up this profession.

Hong Kong is well placed to become a global leader for Traditional Chinese Medicine; with its vibrant and dynamic existing TCM industry, combined with the lessons learned from Covid, the city can provide easy access to TCM for patients around the world.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Hong Kong Health Insurance

It may not surprise you to learn that many Hong Kong health insurance products offer coverage against the costs of any Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment you may receive. In fact, some Hong Kong health insurance policies may even be able to provide for “unlimited” coverage for treatments you receive via a registered practitioner.

Many Hong Kong health insurance plans offering a Traditional Chinese Medicine coverage benefit will also allow for the coverage of treatment by Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Homeopaths, Acupuncturists, and Podiatrists. Some Hong Kong health insurance products will even allow for you to receive traditional Chinese medical treatment under the coverage of separate benefits.

For example, Psychiatric treatments may be received at either western or Chinese medical providers. Likewise, diagnostic imaging may be performed by receiving a referral from a western doctor or TCM Practitioners and Chiropractors.

One major drawback to Traditional Chinese Medicine Insurance in Hong Kong, and which can be found on many policies offering this type of coverage, is the fact that TCM and complimentary medical benefits can be attached to a sublimit. This means that although there may be an overall maximum limit on the policy, you could be restricted in the coverage you receive for TCM treatment.

Traditional Chinese Medicine Sublimits

It is not uncommon, even on local Hong Kong health insurance plans, for a Traditional Chinese Medicine benefit to be attached to a sublimit.

This means that, even though you may have an overall maximum policy benefit in excess of HK$ 30,000,000, your coverage for any TCM treatment you receive will be capped at a much lower level. In Hong Kong the coverage provided under many local health insurance products is normally in the region of HK$ 600 per visit, with a maximum number of visits per year – normally in the 30-visit range.

As such, depending on the policy you choose to purchase and your requirements for Traditional Chinese Medicine coverage, it is important that you fully understand how you are covered for TCM treatments; your selection of medical insurance plan could mean that you receive far less coverage for this type of treatment than you expect.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and International Health Insurance

Traditional Chinese Medicine coverage is also available on many International Health Insurance policies; giving you access to this type of medical coverage anywhere in the world, with the practitioner or provider of your choice.

As with Hong Kong health insurance, TCM benefits under international or global health insurance plans will also normally be attached to sublimits. Many international insurance companies will bundle the coverage available via the plan for all complementary medical providers. This means that under a number of international health insurance plans, Traditional Chinese Medicine will share a coverage sublimit with Osteopathic, Chiropractic, and Homeopathic treatments.

Coupled with the relatively low sublimits normally afforded to TCM treatment, and added to the fact that TCM can often share this sublimit with other forms of complimentary medicine, taking out an international medical insurance policy with the goal of receiving Traditional Chinese medical protection may not be the most efficient or wisest course of action.

However, in comparison with Hong Kong health insurance products, the coverage levels offered by international health insurance plans mean that the addition of a TCM coverage benefit can be a useful addition rather than the core purpose of the plan.

Health insurance in Hong Kong

There are many options for your health insurance coverage in Hong Kong. With the choice of an international health insurance policy, or a locally underwritten Hong Kong plan, understanding what insurance is right for you can be a challenge.

At CCW Global our expert Hong Kong Insurance brokers will work with you to ensure that you are only looking at insurance products which meet your specific needs. Whether you require coverage for Traditional Chinese Medicine and complementary treatments in Hong Kong, or you’re looking at your maternity and pregnancy options globally, our brokers work with you to find the plan that works for you.

Contact us today, and let CCW Global simplify your insurance.

About Author

Michael Lamb is an insurance industry professional with many years of experience within the Hong Kong Insurance market. Focusing on APAC coverage issues, Michael is able to provide extensive analysis and insight to a range of pressing topics. Previously, Michael provided insurance broker Globalsurance.com with their most highly valued articles and was a key influence in the development of all the content on Pacificprime.com, Michael has a passion for insurance matched by few others in the region.

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