The longer I live in Hong Kong the more I realise what a strange place it is. People in Hong Kong adore brands and everything that claims to be Italian or French and are willing to spend shitloads of money on those products.
And, everything that claims to be “private” instead of “public” is better. Always! At least so people think. And giving birth is no exception. Or is it?
As Hong Kong is a competitive place, you better make sure to register with a hospital months before the expected delivery, otherwise there won’t be any beds.
The most important question you need to decide in advance: public or private hospital.
Everyone who can afford it goes for a private hospital.
But quite honestly – I just don’t see the point.
Maybe that’s due to the fact that I’m from “socialist” Europe. A country with high taxes but very good public services (unless you live in the UK and have to deal with NHS, but that’s a different issue).
Giving birth in a private hospital in Hong Kong will cost you anywhere between HKD 30,000 and HKD 100,000 (that’s USD 3,800 to USD 13,000). If you go to a public hospital, it’s just a few hundred HKD (below USD 100).
Now, that’s quite a big difference. So it better be justified. So what is the difference exactly between a public and a private hospital?
I asked many friends in Hong Kong who have children. And I always hear the same: Private Hospitals are better, their staff is better, it’s nicer to be there, the nurses are friendlier, etc.
I’m sure private hospitals treat you like a client, hence they’ll be a lot friendlier to you. After all, you pay. But to be honest – does it matter? Isn’t the reason why people go to a hospital for giving birth (and not at home like it used to be the norm) that doctors can take care of you if complications arise?
My colleague’s wife gave birth to a baby boy one and a half years ago. During the checkup a few weeks before the planned delivery date they discovered complications. The baby just wasn’t in the right position. Now what did the (private) doctor say?
He told them: You need to go to a public hospital. It’s too complicated and too risky, I won’t do it!
Well, so much to private hospitals being better in Hong Kong. It seems they just take your money and if shit really hits the fan, they ship you over to a public hospital to let them take care of the mess.
But that defies the logic of going to a hospital for giving birth in the first place. After all, you give birth in a hospital so doctors are there if you need them.
And still, people keep on telling me: Private is better. I don’t get it. It’s illogical.
Having said that, I also want to emphasise the following: Pregnancy checkups in a public health centre in Hong Kong are a JOKE! All they do is to measure your (or your girlfriends/wife’s) tummy. There are no ultra sound machines in public health centres (naturally, public hospitals have the equipment).
I don’t understand why Hong Kong’s government doesn’t invest part of their massive surplus in a few ultra sound machines. My feeling is, they don’t want to piss off their rich private doctor buddies.
So to sum it up. If you’re ever in the situation of giving birth in Hong Kong keep in mind:
1. For checkup go to a private clinic. They have ultrasound. But since the public check up is for free, you might as well do both.
2. For the delivery, save your money and go to a public hospital. The doctors there are at least as good as the ones in a private hospital. Granted, in a public hospital chances are high you won’t be treated like royalty. But with the money you save, you can have weeks of holidays and spoil yourself like never before…..
I’m just thinking about staring a private hospital with French and Italian doctors. I’m sure it’s good business. Oh, did I just say that out loud?