Learn About Global Health Insurance Options for Expats & Global Citizens Living in China
China is a significant destination for expatriates and global nomads who are looking for economic opportunities. Expats can also enjoy a wide range of cultural experiences in this great country. Still, one of their key concerns is obtaining global medical care for themselves and any family members who may be joining them. Having access to high-quality medical care in China is essential, but it is also quite expensive. One would generally assume that health insurance options in China for an expatriate is quite cheap, but the exact opposite is true. Also, expats residing in China not only need access to medical care in China but also outside of China on a regional basis, back home in their country of citizenship and globally.
Accessing Medical Care in China
In the major cities, most expatriates will want to seek medical care from the private medical system, which is quite good. Moreover, some of the hospitals can rival what is found in the West. You can often expect first-class service and support at most hospitals in China. But it comes at a high price, and insurers have to price this into their rates for expatriates in China.
Is Healthcare Free in China for Expats?
The short answer is maybe. The healthcare systems in China often provide basic coverage for Chinese nationals and, in many cases, expatriates as well. But it will be at public hospitals that most expats will not want to visit. If your employer provides healthcare there, great. But it probably won’t cover you outside of China, which is a big problem for most global citizens.
How Much to go to a Doctor in China?
It can often be quite inexpensive to go to a GP in China, maybe $25 or $50. But again, the doctors who treat expatriates are most likely to charge a lot more. A specialist visit for a foreigner can also be quite expensive.
Is there a Shortage of Care in China?
According to the World Health Organization, China has one medical doctor for every 6,666 people compared with the international standard of one for every 1500 to 2000 people. It is quite common for Chinese nationals in China to go to a specialist or hospital for minor conditions, such as a fever or headache. Additionally, they request for expensive tests and medications. As a result, it can tax the medical system and make accessing care more difficult. Local nationals can get quite upset when they are not able to obtain care. Sometimes, they become violent towards doctors and nurses.
Pandemics in China are a Real Threat
Most flu viruses and pandemics have their start in China, often because of poor hygiene practices surrounding the handling of animals such as chickens and pigs. Unfortunately, it is also due to the highly dangerous practice of slaughtering and eating wild game animals, which is presumed to be the cause of the recent Wuhan Cornivirus outbreak currently wreaking havoc in China. There has been little discovery about the virus since the outbreak, but it has resulted in prompt action. The disease is severe enough for the Chinese Government to build two hospitals in a week.
Moreover, there have been reports stating over 50 million people are in quarantine. It does seem that the Government is now doing a good job. Frankly, there must be thousands of dedicated Chinese medical staff and government officials hard at work. They are taking a high personal risk to contain the illness and treat the sick.
Should I Rely on Domestic Health Insurance options in China?
Well, you may have no choice but to rely on a local health plan if your employer is a Chinese company. It is a similar situation if your foreign company has put you on a local insurance plan. Our firm works with large global companies that have placed their expatriate staff on one of our corporate global health plans that can fully cover expats there. Similarly, we also have many individual expatriate clients covered throughout China with some excellent global health plans.
How Much Does Global Health Insurance Cost in China?
The cost of global medical coverage for expatriates and global nomads residing in China depends on many factors, including:
- Health status
- Options you choose, such as out-patient care, dental, evacuation and access to medical care in the USA
So this is not an easy question, so it makes sense to obtain a quick quote for the best global health plan we offer from Cigna. GeoBlue also provides excellent medical care for American ex-pats in China as well.
As noted above, the medical plan options you choose have a significant impact on the rates charged by the insurer. Some global nomads residing in China may choose a hospital only plan, but if you are living there for the long term, a plan with out-patient care and evacuation is a good idea. If you plan to become pregnant in China, make sure you get a policy that covers maternity, which has a 12-month waiting period.