Taking out expat insurance in China is more than a precaution, it is a guarantee that you will be able to be treated correctly and without excessive expenses in a fascinating country with fast development, but where the healthcare system still needs to be improved.
Explanations in this complete guide!
Healthcare system in China
For several years, progress has been made in China to provide health coverage to the entire population.
In 2011, the law on Social Insurance and the obligation of affiliation to the national scheme for foreigners working in China were implemented.
However, this medical coverage remains very weak compared to Western standards in terms of health insurance.
Public and private health in China
In China, healthcare is largely hospital-based, including general medicine.
There are large disparities between urban and rural areas, where health infrastructures are cruelly lacking.
It is therefore not uncommon to have to be evacuated or transported to a hospital in another location in order to be treated for an accident or a specific pathology.
Expats do not usually seek treatment in public hospitals, but rather in VIP services reserved for foreigners, which are more expensive but closer to Western standards of care.
But most of the time, an expat will use a private or international hospital, more modern, located in the big cities, and benefiting from a staff speaking at least in English.
Price of healthcare in China
The cost of healthcare in China is very variable.
The prices in the public sector are lower than those in the private sector, which vary greatly depending on the establishment. A general practitioner consultation costs around 2 euros in the public sector, but around 25 euros in the VIP services.
In the private sector, prices range from 30 to 150 euros. For a specialist, the cost is between 60 and 250 euros. You can expect to pay between 30 and 200 euros for a night at a hospital in the public sector, compared to 700 euros in the private sector.
Given the amount of money involved, they usually ask for a health coverage certificate before any treatment in the private sector.
Medicines are also usually more expensive than in your home country, or even not available at all.
All these reasons justify the purchase of expat insurance in China, although they do not exempt you from joining the local health insurance scheme.
How to choose the best health insurance for expats in China?
The advantages of expat insurance in China
Among the advantages of expat insurance in China, we can highlight evacuation and repatriation assistance, which will allow you to finance your transport when you need to be treated outside the country for lack of local infrastructure.
Expat insurance also helps protect the insured outside of China: the care received in neighboring countries or during stays in your home country will also be covered.
The best health insurance for expats in China will also allow you, depending on the guarantees subscribed, to benefit from a good coverage for private care, and a correct reimbursement of medicines: it will even be possible to have medicines sent to you that cannot be found in China.
Dental care should not be neglected at the time of the subscription, because it is expensive in China.
It is also possible to purchase useful optional coverages, such as private civil liability, or any other coverage adapted to a more specific need.
Finally, the expertise of the companies that market expat insurance plans in China allows you to benefit from reactive and English-speaking assistance, and to be directed towards qualified healthcare centers or practitioners used to treating foreign patients.
Private medical insurance: extensive experience abroad
Private health insurance is a safe bet in the sector for expat insurance in China.
The proposed reimbursements are often interesting, and the companies offer a range of flexible coverages, adapting to all needs.
Companies that market these products have set up mobile applications or assistance platforms allowing to easily reach the advisors and to carry out the procedures remotely, so it is easy to manage the contract and the reimbursements.
However, all companies offering these insurance plans require a medical questionnaire at the time of enrollment: in the event of pre-existing conditions, this may result in additional costs, exclusions of coverage, or even a rejection of the application.