Hong Kong basketball players left with hefty medical bills, after city officials fail to buy enough insurance

Hong Kong basketball players left with hefty medical bills, after city officials fail to buy enough insurance
  • Players representing city at international events say they were forced to pay as much as HK$70,000 for their own medical care overseas
  • Hong Kong Basketball Association chiefs admit buy insurance policy that limited individual claims for players to HK$10,000

Hong Kong basketball players say they have been left with tens of thousands of dollars worth of medical bills, because officials failed to secure adequate insurance for international events overseas.

Several players said they have been forced to pay for surgery and other expenses out of their own pockets, and were then told the Hong Kong Basketball Association’s insurance could not fully reimburse them.

The association said the governing body had acted in accordance with the government’s guidelines, but would review its policy going forwards in the hope “it would be better”.

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Marco Leung Ka-hin broke his nose in Brisbane in July and as a result needed two separate operations costing more than HK$51,000, but months later the guard had still not been able to recoup the money, leaving him “helpless and worried”.

Leung said the association had told him to “seek medical help first and come back with invoices”, but officials had not said which doctor he should visit.

“I’ve asked the person in charge [at HKBA] four times from August to November [for an update] but all I was told was that it is an ongoing procedure, without further details,” the 23-year-old said.

Basketball bosses have admitted to buying medical insurance which caps any individual claim by a player at HK$10,000, and have even advised players to make further claims through their own policies.

Norman Chan Sui-tim, the association’s chairman, said the governing body had “purchased travel and medical insurance” for overseas trips, and the policies were bought “on the professional advice of the insurance company”.

That company, Dah Sing Insurance, said it provided coverage “addressing customer’s needs based on their professional judgment and past experience on the injury risks for different events and activities, their affordability and the agent’s recommendation”.

Dah Sing also said it “had not received any request to adjust the coverage” since beginning to provide insurance to the association in 2015.

Asked whether players could feel safe representing the city while balancing the potential risk of needing to pay for injuries out of their own pocket, Chan urged them to “stay positive”.

“The association will seek professional advice from the insurance industry as well as seeking help from the funding departments, and hope the situation can be improved,” he said.

However, this was not the first time a player has failed to be fully reimbursed for a medical claim while on duty with the national team.

Another player suffered a facial fracture playing against Australia in 2020, and a severe concussion left him unable to fly back with the team because of the cabin pressure.

The player had to stay overseas for three weeks, and he said the HKBA, “also took a very long time to only give me a partial reimbursement”.

The senior team figure had another unfortunate injury, this time a broken nose, in February when playing for Hong Kong at the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Mongolia.

“For the most recent incident, the total sum was around HK$70,000, the HKBA covered HK$10,000 and my own insurance gave HK$13,000,” he said. “They told me while we were still in Mongolia and I knew from the beginning [their insurance was not enough to cover the entire expense].”

There has been no shortage of controversial issues concerning the HKBA in recent years. The association decided to abandon the Asia Cup pre-qualifiers in April 2022 without consulting any players, before reapplying for participation after their decision caught massive attention from the media and the government.

In September, the association backtracked on its plan to move the women’s Senior Shield final to the more modest Southorn Stadium, having claimed previously that booking a proper arena was a “waste of resources”.

The decider between Fukien and Well Born was moved from Queen Elizabeth Stadium to Island East Sports Centre, which has no room for spectators, but a public backlash forced a U-turn just 24 hours later.

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This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

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