What Are Your Global Healthcare Options in China?

by David Tompkins

Learn About Global Healthcare Options for Expatriates Living in China

global healthcare options in China

The structure of the healthcare system in China is a key factor for expats (or any other person who is keen on living and working in the country) to focus on. So, if you are an expat who stays in China and has a job there, or you are in the process of moving to China, getting to know the Chinese healthcare system and the available healthcare options in China is very important. In this article, we will provide information on your global medical and healthcare options if you are living in China.

Understanding the Chinese Healthcare System

Medical care in China is offered in public hospitals, private healthcare facilities, and international hospitals. Considering the size of the country, the quality of healthcare and medical care costs vary significantly across different cities of the country. Even though the country’s public healthcare system has its share of inconsistencies, there are a large number of public hospitals located in every city of China that offer a variety of healthcare services. Some public hospitals also have international wings.

In the countryside, nevertheless, it takes a long time (hours or days) for residents to reach the closest clinic. The country’s public healthcare system is broadly regarded as inferior, despite the quality of treatment is very different at one facility from the other. As an expat, you may have to spend a lot of money if you opt for private medical care. However, private healthcare facilities do provide a better quality of treatment as compared to those offered in public health facilities.

Be it government hospitals, international clinics in them, or private service providers that serve expats, all offer healthcare facilities. Expats are not required to go searching for a general care physician. Not surprisingly, in a nation of this size, the quality of care, easy accessibility, and related expenditure differ significantly among various places and establishments.

china expat insurance

Public vs. Private Healthcare Options in China

Despite there being some foreign employees in China who still choose various public healthcare facilities throughout the length and breadth of the country; most expats choose private medical care. The long waiting times, service delays and the language divide hinders most expats from getting the right kind of treatment at such public healthcare facilities like they are used to in their home country. Besides, most Chinese public hospitals here do not provide the quality of medical care that is at par with the standards in the West.

Expats who are looking for treatment at public hospitals must be prepared to run into some unforeseeable and tricky situations. Still, a majority of public hospitals, typically the ones in larger cities of China, comprise international wings. These offer public healthcare at par with western standards. Contrary to public healthcare facilities, there are no long queues and delays in international wings. Preferably, they are geared towards providing quality customer care and inexpensive treatment.

On the contrary, many private healthcare facilities provide top-level treatment to expats and other foreign patients. Nonetheless, the top quality and specialized treatment that Chinese private healthcare facilities offer are very expensive, usually, twice the cost incurred by someone at public hospitals. Generally, international hospitals are considered the distinguishing feature of China’s public healthcare system.

Availability of Pharmacies for Expats

Pharmacies in China bear a green cross and are there around every nook and corner. Expats can also collect medicines from hospitals and foreign clinics, although these are expensive. Chinese drugstores also have an over-the-counter system of selling drugs, a common practice in a majority of Western countries. However, they might not have a certain brand that you use in your home country. In case you have an emergency requirement of a specific medicine in China, which is unavailable in the mainland, you may get it in Hong Kong.

healthcare options in china

Choosing the Right Medical Insurance Policy 

Inpatient Coverage:

A primary part of any ‘must-have’ healthcare plan for expats in China, this covers inpatient care in case of hospitalization in critical situations like viral diseases, road accidents, poisoning, and other serious scenarios. A majority of the inpatient coverage plans cover maximum expenses, casualty evacuation, and medical repatriation services.

Outpatient Coverage:

Out-patient care in China is just what it sounds like – medical care that is accessed outside a hospital. It deals with the treatment of minor afflictions like a common cold, to surgery and chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. The scope of outpatient coverage is based on individual plans. In China, it is only possible to buy outpatient plans with ongoing inpatient coverage.

care in China

Other Options for Global Medical for Expats in China

If you are living in China, you should also consider a medical evacuation option to cover you if medical treatment is not available locally or you need to be repatriated. Others should consider wellness coverage and dental insurance.

International health insurance is the most secure way to take care of an expat’s medical expenses when working in China. Though almost every employer in China provides a health insurance plan to their staff, you may purchase a separate insurance policy that suits your medical care requirements or you may have to secure coverage on your own. Expat Financial offers some excellent global health insurance plans from various global providers.

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