Having the healthiest pregnancy possible in China

Having the healthiest pregnancy possible in China blog article

It can be daunting having a baby away from your home country, especially when considering that the Chinese healthcare system is likely very different from what you’re used to back home. There are a number of things you’ll need to consider in ensuring that you have the healthiest pregnancy possible in China, one of the major considerations being that you have access to modern facilities so that you are able to receive quality prenatal care prior to giving birth. The good news is that the quality of healthcare in China is improving at a rapid rate, especially after foreign entities have been allowed to invest in private hospitals since 2012.

This article sheds light on what you need to know about hospitals in China, and offers a number of tips on ensuring that you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.

Healthcare facilities in China

An essential aspect of maintaining a healthy pregnancy is ensuring that you have access to quality medical services during the whole course of your pregnancy. Usually, in the beginning stages of your pregnancy you would expect scans and consultations with an ob/gyn every 4 to 6 weeks, and then increase the frequency of your visits to once every week or once every 2 weeks closer to your delivery date.

Public hospitals

Most cities in China will have direct access to a range of public hospitals. While public hospitals charge much cheaper fees than private hospitals, the quality of service and cleanliness levels in these facilities vary greatly, and the imposing language barrier and long waiting times tend to dissuade the majority of expats from seeking public medical care.

Private and international hospitals

Most expats living in tier 1 cities like Beijing and Shanghai will benefit from the wide selection of Western-style private clinics available. Private facilities offer a number of perks such as much shorter waiting times, quality of care that is on par with Western standards, and English-speaking medical staff.

It’s important to note that the fees charged in these facilities are significantly more expensive than the prices in public hospitals – expect to pay around CNY 4,000 for an ultrasound, and up to CNY 100,000 for a C-section delivery package!

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine

You may also want to consider seeking Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment. Traditional Chinese practices such as acupuncture and Chinese medicine are very popular among Chinese women – they are considered safe practices and are also quite effective in maintaining a healthy pregnancy and alleviating a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue and nausea.

For example, acupuncture is often used to manage pain and prepare the uterus and cervix for birth. There are also a plethora of TCM treatments available that help promote the health and development of the fetus.

Maintaining a healthy diet during your pregnancy

In order to ensure that you and your baby are receiving all the nutrients needed, it’s important that you consume foods that are rich with folic acid, iron, calcium, protein, and other important vitamins and minerals.

Moms-to-be are advised to add around 300 calories on top of their normal recommended daily intake during the second trimester of their pregnancy, and increase this to 500 calories during your third trimester.

Recommended foods include fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, and whole grains. It’s best to avoid caffeine and highly advised to stay away from alcohol, as drinking alcohol during your pregnancy may lead to a number of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

Try to reduce your exposure to pollution

As mentioned in last month’s article on reducing the harmful health risks of air pollution in China, certain groups of people are more susceptible to the harmful health effects of pollution, and that includes pregnant women. Recent research has linked prenatal exposure to ambient levels of air pollution with an increased risk of low birth weight and infant mortality, mainly due to its harmful cardiovascular and respiratory effects on both the mother and the newborn.

Major cities in China are known for its toxic levels of air pollution, so if you’re planning to stay in China during your pregnancy, it’s highly important that you try to reduce your exposure to pollution by staying indoors and away from heavily trafficked roads when your area’s Air Quality Index (AQI) reaches the high health risk category. You can check your area’s real-time AQI here.

Securing maternity insurance early enough on your policy

Moms-to-be are highly advised to secure maternity insurance to offset the high cost of pregnancy in China. The importance of securing maternity insurance early enough on your policy cannot be stressed enough. The reason for this is because maternity benefits are attached with a waiting period usually lasting 10-12 months, so you’ll need to plan ahead before starting a family if you want to ensure that your maternity costs are covered.

If you’re already pregnant and would like coverage for your newborn, you may still be able to secure a New Born Child benefit as this will usually have a shorter waiting period – some as short as 6 months.

If you’ve got any further questions regarding maternity insurance or would like some insurance or maternity-related advice, feel free to get in touch with our team of experts (and moms!) at Pacific Prime China today.

China featured in 2017 International Private Medical Insurance inflation report

Pacific Prime 2017 IPMI inflation report image

Pacific Prime China is excited to announce that our global partner Pacific Prime has released the 2017 annual edition of the International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) inflation report, which reveals the overall 2016 global premium inflation rate and presents analysis on premium prices charged by top IPMI plans offered by leading insurance providers in 10 key locations around the world. These countries are categorized into the following regions: Southeast Asia, Middle East, and Rest of World.

Presented in an easy to read format, this report is highly recommended for anyone interested in looking at how much they’re paying for IPMI, and should also be of high interest for insurers looking for information on premium prices in the various regions.

This article presents an overview of the findings from the latest IPMI inflation report. To access the report, click here for the website version, or click here to download your FREE PDF copy.

Key findings on global IPMI inflation

Pacific Prime’s report reveals that the average global IPMI inflation rate in 2016 was 9.2% – the exact same as the inflation rate in 2015. As shown in the graph below, the inflation rates observed in 2015 and 2016 have significantly increased from the 2014 inflation figure of 7.1%. The inflation rate in 2015 was around 5 percentage points higher than the average Consumer Price (CP) inflation rate in the countries included in this report – this remained consistent in 2016.

IPMI inflation in China

China has seen an increase in demand for quality healthcare services from the middle classes and an improved perception of health insurance. The average IPMI inflation figure in China hiked up to 12.06% in 2016 – 2.86% higher than the average global IPMI inflation rate, and a significant increase from China’s 2015 inflation rate of 9.5%. The trends impacting IPMI inflation in China include the maturing insurance market and growing government health regulations.

Key IPMI inflation drivers

As with the previous reports, the following 4 long term inflation drivers continue to make up a strong part of the explanation behind IPMI inflation:

  • New medical technology: The high costs of new medical technology research are usually passed onto patients by increasing healthcare fees, subsequently leading to inflating premium prices.
  • An imbalance of healthcare resources: Due to a range of factors including the ageing population, the imbalance of supply and demand for healthcare resources continues to increase – insurers cover the risks posed from growing demand by inflating premiums.
  • Increased compensation for healthcare professionals: The rising salaries of medical professionals are covered by rising healthcare costs, thus leading to the rise in premium prices.
  • Healthcare overutilization: There’s a growing trend towards the introduction of state-provided mandatory insurance in various regions, such as in the UAE. This has led to an increased strain on healthcare and an increase in the number of claims submitted, and insurers are responding to this by hiking up premiums.

The 2017 IPMI report has also identified 3 newly emerged trends driving premium inflation:

  • Global economic uncertainty: Global, regional, and domestic pressures have had an impact on the low economic growth observed in the countries included in this report, all of which influence IPMI through flow on effects. For example, China has experienced a growing resistance to foreign expat workers as GDP slows.
  • Changing population dynamics: The report has identified an expat “exodus” in some of the most popular expat locations, such as in Singapore and the UAE. Despite slowly dwindling expat numbers in certain regions, there’s an observable growth in demand for IPMI from increasingly wealthy local populations and high networth individuals (HNW).
  • Increasing availability of technology: Although technology has not yet had a significant impact on IPMI, Pacific Prime predicts this IPMI inflation driver will increase in force in the foreseeable future. For example, as the use of big data continues to become increasingly sophisticated, the management of insurance premium inflation may see an improvement in the years to come.

For a more in-depth analysis on the 2017 IPMI inflation report findings, you can view it here and download it for FREE here. If you’d like to have a chat with us, feel free to contact us today and one of our insurance advisors will be in touch shortly.

Pacific Prime China is now on WeChat!

Pacific Prime China WeChat QR Code

Pacific Prime China is excited to announce the launch of our very own portal on popular Chinese messaging platform WeChat – a welcome new addition to our current repertoire of social media accounts already on Facebook, and LinkedIn. Joining an active user base of 846 million, the official Pacific Prime China WeChat account now offers a whole host of exciting new features exclusive to our followers. To avail these perks, simply follow us on WeChat (WeChat ID: PacificPrime) today!

Pacific Prime China meets Chinese market trends

In joining the ubiquitous WeChat platform, Pacific Prime China taps into a whole new audience of avid users – more than 90% of WeChat users go on the messaging app every day, and over 50% of users use WeChat more than 1 hour daily! By keeping up-to-date with the latest market trends in China, Pacific Prime China joins in with 560,000 other official company accounts on the most popular online community channel in China.

With a current active user base that is hiking its way up to the 1 billion user mark, WeChat has far surpassed Twitter’s 317 million users and is steadily catching up with Facebook’s 1.79 billion active users. Interestingly, corporate workers form the largest user group on WeChat, making up 40.4% of total users.

More than just a messaging platform

Pacific Prime China sees enormous potential in finding new ways of personalizing our services to existing and new clients on WeChat, especially when looking at the different ways that users are currently engaging with the platform. For example, not only are people communicating via chat, but they are also engaging on its social media platform “Moments” with friends and companies – a significant 61.4% of users go onto WeChat Moments when they open the app.

Another popular feature is WeChat Payment, which links WeChat with the user’s credit card. There are now 200 million users connected to WeChat Payments, and this highly availed feature has even seen over 8 billion “red envelopes” sent over WeChat during Chinese New Year in 2016!

Key features offered in new Pacific Prime China WeChat portal

Here are a key few of the many exciting new features that you can expect from the new Pacific Prime China WeChat portal:

  • Claims processing: Existing clients of Pacific Prime China can now access their policy details, easily process claims, and also change their policy information.
  • Assisting new clients: Our WeChat portal allows us to assist our new clients with regards to securing their new policies
  • Access to a dedicated service team: We now have a dedicated team servicing our WeChat account, helping you with any questions you may have.
  • Keeping you informed: Followers will be able to access exclusive blog articles so that they can stay up-to-date on the latest, most important market information relevant to the insurance industry, covering topics related to expat health insurance, general insurance, health trends, and many more.

Don’t forget to follow us!

To access the exciting new features now available on Pacific Prime China’s latest portal, be sure to follow us via our WeChat ID: PacificPrime, or by scanning the QR code below:

Pacific Prime China WeChat

 

Interested in learning more about our WeChat portal or the plans that we offer? Contact us today and our team of insurance advisors will be more than happy to have a chat.

5 tips for getting the most out of your health checkup in China

Getting the most out of your health checkup

The importance of maintaining good health continues to take central precedence in the Chinese government’s reforms, and this has been exemplified in the “Healthy China 2030” blueprint released in October, which sets out to improve health literacy in the country. As reported by Xinhua News, Premier Li Keqiang has announced in the Ninth Global Conference on Health Promotion that the current average life expectancy in China is 76.3, beating many middle and high income countries.

With the Healthy China initiative, China hopes to raise the average life expectancy to 79 by 2030. In ensuring that this ambitious goal is reached, the Chinese government has been distributing brochures offering health advice to the public by advocating healthy habits, chief among them being the importance of regular health checkups.

As the age-old saying goes, “prevention is better than cure”. Undergoing regular checkups is important in helping you identify any health concerns you may have before they develop into long term chronic illnesses. With new year’s just around the corner, it’s time to include regular medical exams in your resolutions! This article by Pacific Prime China reveals how to get the most out of your health checkup.

Be prepared for your checkup

To get the most out of your checkup, there are a few things you can do before your appointment so that your doctor can better address any specific areas of concern you may have:

  • Notify your clinic/ doctor about problem areas that you’re concerned about before your appointment. By doing so, your doctor will be better prepared for your checkup beforehand and can then adjust the duration of your appointment accordingly.
  • Prepare previous health records if you’re visiting the clinic for the first time. This can help your doctor by providing key insights on your medical history.
  • Be prepared to provide information on your family’s health history. Do certain diseases run in your family? It may be a good idea to write these down, especially if it’s your first time visiting a particular clinic.
  • Think about questions you may have regarding your body. Have you noticed anything unusual, like new moles or lumps on your body? It’s worth jotting these down.
  • Prepare a list of medications that you’ve been taking – it’s important to let your doctor know what medications you are on, including non-prescription drugs like supplements. This may help reduce the chances of negative interactions between any newly introduced medications and your current medication.

Don’t forget cancer screenings

With regular cancer screenings, any abnormal cells that may turn into cancer will be detected. It may be daunting to undergo these screenings, but detecting any abnormalities as early as possible can really save your life. Here are some of the most common types of cancer screenings:

  • Mammograms to detect breast cancer.
  • Pap test (for women) to identify abnormal cells that may turn into cervical cancer.
  • Screening tests for colon cancer – this is especially important for adults above 50 years old, people with a family history of colon cancer, and people with inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Low-dose computed tomography scans to detect lung cancer. This is especially recommended for people with a history of heavy smoking.

Don’t hesitate to address any embarrassing symptoms

Some people prefer to avoid talking about embarrassing symptoms or illnesses as they consider these a social taboo, but it’s important to be as honest as possible. Doctors deal with and talk about these problem areas every day and are there to provide their professional help. If you’re feeling too uncomfortable, it might help to invite a close friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment.

Mental health is also important

With 180 million people in China suffering from psychiatric disorders, there’s a pressing need to address mental health issues in this country. If you’ve been feeling particularly stressed or unhappy, don’t forget to mention this during your checkup, as your doctor can help refer you to a relevant professional so that, if appropriate, you can proceed with therapy and other forms of treatment.

Make sure your health insurance plan covers checkups

Checkups can be expensive (especially in private and international hospitals), which is why it’s important to check if this is covered by your health insurance plan. Some plans may only cover a percentage of the cost of the checkup, and other plans may cover only basic checkups. Another thing to be aware of is your plan’s preferred network of providers. If you’re going to a clinic that is not listed under your plan’s in-network, you will likely face issues when filing claims.

If you’re unsure of what exactly is covered by your plan or would like some further information, feel free to contact us today.

Tips for reducing health risks from air pollution in China

Blog on reducing air pollution health risks

As you are probably aware, the harmful effects of air pollution in major Chinese cities has been a cause of ongoing concern for the population’s health and wellbeing. One of the main reasons for such high pollution levels is the observably poor compliance to environmental standards at industrial plants, and with China producing the highest total industrial output globally, harmful levels of PM2.5 pollutant matter (particles small enough to penetrate the lungs) are continuously emitted into the atmosphere, day in and day out.

World news headlines and social media sites continue to see the ubiquitous presence of China’s health pollution problem, and rightly so, as it tops the world in most types of air pollution due to the high presence of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon emissions. By 2017, Beijing aims to reduce its annual levels of PM2.5 from its 2013 level of 89.5 micrograms per cubic meter to 60 micrograms per cubic meter – an ambitious aim that still seems nearly impossible considering the city’s current reduction rate, with a recorded level of 80.6 micrograms reported at the end of 2015.

Especially when considering the increased mortality and premature deaths linked to air pollutant exposure, there’s a pressing need for the Chinese government to implement pollution reduction measures, especially in its major cities. From a personal perspective, there are also a number of things you can do to reduce the health risks associated with air pollution, a key few of which are addressed in this article.

What are the health risks associated with air pollution?

A staggering 1.6 million deaths in China per year have been attributed to toxic air pollution, as air pollutants have been reportedly linked to a number of health risks. Certain groups of people are more susceptible to air pollution health risks than others, such as pregnant women, the elderly, young children, people with heart disease, and people with lung conditions.

According to Spare The Air, some of the health risks associated with exposure to heavy air pollution include:

  • Cardiovascular disease, e.g. stroke
  • Respiratory conditions, e.g. asthma
  • Loss of lung capacity
  • Reduced resistance to infections
  • There’s also an increased risk of lung cancer from prolonged exposure to air pollution

While there are groups of people that are particularly vulnerable to these health risks, even the healthiest of individuals may develop some of the symptoms common from pollution exposure, such as wheezing and dry throat. This is why it is important for anyone living in major cities within China to mitigate the health risks caused by air pollution.

Top tips for mitigating health risks from air pollution

The health risks mentioned above may seem scary, but there are a few things you can do to minimize them.

Stay indoors

One method of significantly reducing exposure to air pollutants is to stay indoors, especially during high air pollution days. To check air pollution levels in your area, be sure to follow government warnings and local news. It may also help to look at real-time China pollution maps (like this one).

Although air pollution particles do infiltrate indoors, its concentrations are typically much lower indoors than outdoors. To lower the infiltration of air pollution, an article in the Journal of Thoracic Disease suggests closing windows, as this action alone can effectively reduce air exchange rates by approximately 50%.

Consider buying an indoor air purifier

You may also want to buy an air cleaning device (e.g. a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter) for your home, as this can help reduce the concentrations of air pollution and the levels of PM2.5 indoors. The rate at which pollutants are removed will depend on a range of factors such as the size of your home and the ventilation rate of your air purifier.

Try to stay away from heavily trafficked roads

If you’re going out for a jog or cycling around the city, it’s highly advised to stay away from heavily trafficked roads to avoid traffic-related air pollutants. These include particles from combustion engines, tire and vehicle wear, and road dust. If you have been walking near any major roadways, it’s a good idea to wash your clothes and take a shower after you get home to rid yourself of harmful fine particles.

Wear a protective mask

Sometimes, it’s hard to avoid being out during polluted days, especially when you have to commute to work. It might not look very fashionable, but wearing a protective mask or even a personal respirator can significantly help lower your exposure to air pollutants on urban streets, and can be especially beneficial for people who are more susceptible to health risks caused by air pollution.

Final advice

As revealed in this article, air pollution in China can really have a negative impact on your health, so it’s important to secure a private health insurance plan so that you are protected in the event that you require quality medical treatment from private or international hospitals. If you’ve got any questions on health plans, contact our team of experienced advisors today.