Legislative Council Panel on Public Service
Meeting on 24 February 1997
Overseas Medical Treatment for Civil Servants


Members have asked to be informed of the arrangements whereby civil servants may be reimbursed for the costs of overseas medical treatment. This paper sets out the arrangements.

Criteria for reimbursement of overseas medical expenses

2. Under existing policy, serving civil servants and their dependants may be sent abroad for medical treatment and be reimbursed for the necessary costs involved provided that-

  1. the treatment is essential on medical grounds;
  2. such treatment is not available in Hong Kong; and
  3. prior approval has been obtained from the Director of Health.

Arrangements for reimbursement of overseas medical expenses

3. When an officer is recommended treatment not available in Hong Kong by an attending Hospital Authority doctor, he may apply to the Department of Health for reimbursement of the cost of the treatment. On receipt of the application, the Department of Health will then seek the views of an independent doctor in the Hospital Authority headquarters. The two HA doctors’ advice is then considered by a third doctor in the Department of Health. Each case will be considered on its own merits based on the professional medical judgement of the doctors concerned. The Department of Health will only agree to reimburse the cost of essential treatment which cannot be provided in Hong Kong. The cost of any follow up treatment which is available in Hong Kong will not be reimbursed.

4. In the last three years (1994, 1995 and 1996), reimbursement was made in respect of four cases. In these four cases, the patients received treatment in Australia, Japan and USA. The total cost was about $1.13 million, ranging from $120,000 to $640,000.

5. In all these cases, the assessment criteria were applied consistently. The Government is confident that the treatment provided was essential and not available locally.

Promulgation of the arrangement

6. The arrangement for reimbursement of the cost of essential treatment which is only available overseas is set out in Civil Service Regulation 910. In case of difficulties, Departmental Welfare Officers are able to provide assistance to the patients and their families where necessary.


7. Mrs Philomena Leung, Principal Assistant Secretary (Civil Service)3 is responsible for the subject matter. She may be contacted on telephone number 2810 3100.

Civil Service Branch
February 1997

Last Updated on 21 August 1998