Your guide to health insurance in China
Planning to start a new chapter in China? Home to a rich heritage and 56 ethnic groups, China is one of the oldest and biggest countries in the world. Besides historical sites like the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City, it's also filled with picturesque beauty. For instance, Guilin is particularly famous for looking like a real-life water painting.
Before you make the move, you might want to read up on the healthcare system in China. Of equal importance is the ways in which you can access the system as an expat. Here's a rundown of how the healthcare system works in China and your health insurance options.
Healthcare system in China
The healthcare sector in China is growing at a rapid rate. Also, the quality of medical care is continuously improving in China, especially after the Chinese government started allowing foreign entities to invest in private hospitals in 2012. Below, you'll find a comparison between public and private healthcare systems in China.
The public healthcare system in China
China provides free public basic healthcare under the country's social insurance plan. It also covers most expats depending on the region they’re in. Appointment booking, as well as doctor's consultation, are often done in Chinese. In addition, the wait time can be long before you, like many others, can enjoy its affordable services.
However, expats seeking treatment in China will likely find that the quality of healthcare varies significantly between institutions and regions. For instance, hospitals in metropolises like Shanghai and Beijing are of a higher quality than those in smaller cities and towns. This, combined with an imposing language barrier, may make it hard to navigate around the country’s public healthcare system. Public facilities also tend to be less clean and are louder than private institutions.
The private healthcare system in China
Most expats opt for treatment in private or international hospitals to receive care that is on par with the level of care provided in many Western countries. However, fees charged in private and international facilities are often very expensive, and sometimes even more expensive than the fees charged in the US. Therefore, you are advised to secure private health insurance in China to offset these potentially high costs.
There are several types of private medical facilities in China: international hospitals, international clinics, and VIP wards at public hospitals. Note that there are a lot more private medical institutions in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
International hospitals and clinics
International clinics are located in expat dense districts. International hospitals, on the other hand, are concentrated in the suburbs. As mentioned, the quality of care here is more on par with what you are used to back home. What's more, the staff there can speak English, as well as a handful of other languages. Smooth communication between doctor and patient is crucial to you receiving the care you need.
VIP hospital wards
You can usually find VIP wards inside public hospitals. Similar to international hospitals and clinics, they provide a more personalized healthcare experience in English. They are also similar to international hospitals in that they offer similar services and treatment at around the same price range.
Traveling to China?
If you are a tourist visiting China and do not have international health insurance in China, you are highly recommended to secure travel insurance for minimal inpatient coverage or short term insurance for a more extensive range of customizable benefits.
It is not uncommon to pay RMB $1,200 to RMB $1,500 RMB for a general practitioner's visit at international medical facilities in China. Usually, you will have to pay significantly more for specialist appointments. Many expats opt for international health insurance in China so that they can receive coverage for treatment at these facilities without breaking the bank.
Get protected with China health insurance plans
For more information on the insurance plans we have on offer, take a look at our health insurance plans page. Whether it's health insurance in Shanghai or health insurance in Beijing, we've got you covered.
Pacific Prime China has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry. We are more than happy to help you find plans that balance your budget with your needs. Contact our team of insurance experts today for a free plan comparison and personalized advice!