Health Insurance

All the latest articles on health insurance in China.

Private medical insurance in China: How to beat the public hospital queues

Private medical insurance in China: How to beat the public hospital queues

China’s total healthcare sector is expected to surpass USD 1 trillion by 2020, making it one of the fastest growing health markets in the world. The Chinese Government spends just over 5% of its Gross Domestic Product on healthcare, but that figure is projected to increase rapidly as the population continues to increase and age. As a result, a wide-ranging reform agenda has been put into motion in China to help it enhance the quality, coverage, and sustainability of the healthcare system for the future.

One of the issues these reforms are poised at addressing is related to overcrowding and overutilization in China’s public health sector. This week, Pacific Prime China discusses how securing China health insurance can help you skip the waiting times and long queues by guaranteeing access to private care.

The challenges for China’s health reforms

China is one of many countries facing questions regarding the standard and sustainability of its public health sector. The reforms, those planned or already introduced, are being delivered by the Chinese government in order to address the following challenges:

  • Rising health expenditure;
  • An imbalance in resources in public hospitals; and
  • A significant projected increase in demand for health services

Failing to act on these red flaags would see further stress placed upon government budgets, something China is working to avoid as it looks to maintain its economy.

Rising expenditure

Rising costs of healthcare are a feature of health systems everywhere, however China’s current situation looks to be at a crucial point. Currently, health expenditure in China has grown at a rate of 11.6% per year. The country’s economy, by way of comparison, has grown at a rate of 9.9% per year, making health expenditure as it stands an important issue for the government to address before it gets higher.

Imbalance of public health resources

The China Europe International Business School presentation on industry growth and policy development highlighted a number of key resourcing challenges facing China’s public health sector. Currently, public facilities in the country make up a significant majority of the resources available; 46% of all hospitals are public facilities, however they make up 83% of all available beds, attend to 87% of all hospital visits, and treat 85% of all inpatient cases.

China has already begun making moves to address staffing challenges, increasing the number of medical and pharmacy college graduates from 270,000 between 1978 and 1987, to 4.1 million between 2008 and 2015. That said, the country’s physician population ratio (14.9 per 10,000 population) still sits behind countries like Brazil (18.9), Mexico (21), the US (24.5), and Russia (43.1).

A significant projected increase in health service demand

As with most public health sectors around the world, overutilization and a projected increase in demand for health services remains the largest challenge in China. Solidiance suggests that the rapidly ageing population in China will accelerate the country’s old age dependency ratio (over 65 year olds divided by the working population less total people from 15-64 years old) at 43% by 2045; making China one of the highest in the world.

While the largest Asian country had previously held concerns that it had too many children to support, decades of the One Child Policy have now delivered a problem of how too few young workers might support its older generations. According to the Population Reference Bureau, over 65 year olds in China are expected to make up almost 25% of the population by the year 2050.

Older demographics often come with a host of serious health issues; chronic diseases (such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases), hypertension, and obesity. With more non-working members of Chinese society living longer and being more susceptible to illnesses requiring lengthy and expensive treatment, it’s little wonder the government has made addressing this issue a priority.

Challenges to the public health system

The problems facing many looking to China’s public health system are all related to the above challenges:

  • Hospitals issuing unnecessary prescriptions and procedures in order to raise much needed revenue;
  • Long waiting times and delays in seeking treatment;
  • A common inability to seek the same physician for your care; and
  • An overall dissatisfaction with the quality of healthcare

As such, China’s public sector has been riddled with tales of doctors prescribing expensive drugs and treating patients like cash cows, people scalping tickets to patients who are waiting long hours for hospital consultations, and instances of violence against medical professionals which has resulted in armed police guards standing in as security at some health facilities.

For the government, cost control methods are being developed in order to curb health expenditure and relieve hospital budgets, tighter regulations are being introduced to protect patients against unnecessary treatments and pharmaceuticals, as well as modernizing of facilities and services in order to grow the capacity of the sector to handle the coming demands of China’s population.

Private medical insurance, however, is being viewed by many as a faster, more direct way of overcoming these public health sector barriers without waiting for the long term effects of the Chinese government’s reforms to take place.

How can private health insurance help?

Private health insurance can help people seeking medical care in China by granting them access to the private hospital system. Virtually all China health insurance plans use private facilities due to having next to no wait times, internationally trained staff, a high standard of service, and generally superior facilities when compared with their public counterparts.

Why might you need health insurance? Because the costs associated with private facilities can still be extremely expensive. At a private or international hospital, people can pay between RMB 1,200 and 1,500 to visit a GP, with procedures for things like an emergency appendectomy costing as much as RMB 50,000. Hopeful parents should also be aware that maternity costs at a private hospital can run as high as RMB 98,000.

Medical insurance in China can be really helpful for those of you who travel frequently, with international health insurance plans able to provide coverage and private facility access both in China and abroad. For many highly mobile expats, this can save on the cost and administration of purchasing multiple travel insurance plans every time you leave the country.

What are the most important differences between the public and private health sectors in China?

Beyond what we’ve outlined here, there are a number of specific and peculiar differences between the public health sector and the private hospital system. Understanding what sets them apart is recommended before you make a decision on whether to purchase private health insurance in China. To help you with that, Pacific Prime China has produced a Public and Private Healthcare in Shanghai guide that you can download, free of charge!

Inside, you can get a closer look at what makes up the public and private sectors, what VIP clinics are, and how emergencies are treated in China. Insurance options and costs are also discussed, making this guide a very valuable resource for both new and long-term expats. In addition to this Public vs Private guide, Pacific Prime China has also released a range of other guides related to topics like maternity and IVF as well.

To see our full range of insurance resources, visit our Health Guides page, or alternatively contact our expert team for a discussion on how our advisors can help you.

Posted by Luther in Expat Health Insurance
Top-up insurance: What is it, what does it cover, and why might I need it?

Top-up insurance: What is it, what does it cover, and why might I need it?

As one of the most coveted employee benefit perks, a growing number of companies in China are offering group health insurance to stay competitive in retaining and attracting top talent. In fact, around 65 percent of employees in China have some form of employer-provided health insurance coverage. That said, common coverage deficiencies in corporate health insurance have led to growing demand for top-up insurance products in the nation.

To address the most commonly asked questions about top-up insurance in the two most populous expat cities in China, our team of insurance experts at Pacific Prime China have recently released 2017-2018 Top-Up Guides for both Shanghai and Beijing. This week’s blog post provides an overview of what the guide covers, as well as what a top-up plan is, what it covers, and why you would need it.

Inside our Shanghai and Beijing Top-Up Guides

Our Shanghai and Beijing Top-Up guides are valuable resources for anyone possessing employer-provided health coverage who is considering additional options to supplement it, or who feels that their corporate cover may not be quite enough. By downloading our Shanghai or Beijing Top-Up Guide, you’ll get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions we get around top-up insurance, including:

  • What is a top-up plan?
  • What are the main hospitals in Shanghai/ Beijing?
  • What are the most common deficiencies in employer-provided health plans?
  • What are the costs of treatment at public vs private hospitals in Shanghai/ Beijing?
  • What are the top-up insurance solutions available to you?
  • And more.

To answer the above questions the best we can, both Top-Up guides are broken down into five easy-to-read sections:

  1. Background on top-up insurance plans in Shanghai/ Beijing
  2. Hospitals in Shanghai/ Beijing
  3. Common employer-provided insurance policy gaps
  4. Actual costs of medical treatments and surgeries in Shanghai/ Beijing
  5. Insurance solutions available to address deficiencies in employer-provided plans

Best of all, our Shanghai and Beijing Top-Up Guides are both available to download for FREE from the health insurance guides section of our website, which also features a whole range of other insurance and healthcare related guides dedicated to simplifying insurance for expats living in China.

What is top-up insurance, and what does it cover?

A top-up insurance policy provides additional coverage benefits to make up for the gaps and deficiencies in an existing employer-provided health insurance policy. It can work out to be the cheapest option for complementing your corporate cover, especially when compared to purchasing a separate medical insurance policy from scratch.

With a top-up plan, you can lower your premiums by using your employer-provided health insurance as a primary level of coverage, and then making claims with your top-up plan where hospital bills have exceeded or are not part of the coverage benefits included in your company health insurance plan. In the table below, we’ve included an example of how a top-up arrangement may work vis-à-vis an employer-provided plan:


top-up insurance exampleSource: Shanghai Top-Up Guide 2017-2018

In addition to topping up on coverage limits, another major advantage of top-up insurance is that it can offer extra benefits that are not covered by your existing corporate health insurance plan. These can include benefits for serious illnesses, out-patient cover (e.g. vaccinations, specialist visits, health screenings, Traditional Chinese Medicine), maternity, dental, and vision cover, as well as extended geographical coverage (i.e. international cover).

Why do I need top-up insurance?

Top-up insurance can be the best, most cost-effective solution for complementing and making up for deficiencies in employer-provided cover. This is especially true for employees who have very basic employer-provided health insurance, or a corporate policy that does not suit their healthcare requirements, as top-up plans can really help reduce the financial risk of spending hundreds and thousands out of pocket on treatments not covered by company health insurance.

One major factor boosting demand for top-up plans in China is the ever-increasing cost of care, which has illuminated the need to secure more comprehensive private health insurance with higher limits and more coverage benefits for better protection.

The need for supplementary health insurance coverage is even greater if you usually/ only seek care at private facilities, where costs are in most cases significantly higher than public hospitals. For instance, a GP visit at a VIP clinic or international hospital in Shanghai can cost up to RMB 1,000, and a health checkup can cost up to RMB 12,200.

Further tests and procedures will cost more, e.g. a colonoscopy costs around RMB 12,000, an emergency surgical procedure usually costs around RMB 50,000, and a maternity c-section package costs up to RMB 98,000. With these costs in mind, it is easy to see why securing a top-up plan can really help in further offsetting your medical expenses.

Get your copy of the Top-Up Guide today

For a more in-depth overview on everything you need to know about top-up insurance in Shanghai or Beijing, be sure to get your free PDF copy by clicking on the link(s) below today:

If you have any more questions, or would like to learn about your top-up options in China, get in touch with our helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today. With years of experience offering impartial advice to expats in China, our experts are standing by to answer all your questions, match you with the best insurance solutions for your needs, and give you a free quote.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Group Health Insurance, Health Insurance
How Pacific Prime helps you to find the best employee benefits

How Pacific Prime helps you to find the best employee benefits

One of the best ways to attract and retain the best talent in your industry is to offer an attractive benefits package. Yes, compensation is a key part of this but simply offering competitive pay won’t lead to happy employees. These days, you need to go further and implement a more multi-faceted employee benefits program. But, how exactly do you do this and what does a successful benefits solution look like?

To help answer these questions, the corporate team at Pacific Prime China has put together two new flyers that look at our corporate solutions in Beijing and Shanghai. You can download these flyers for free today from our website:

  • Click here for our Beijing flyer
  • Click here for our Shanghai flyer

Who is Pacific Prime China?

Pacific Prime China has been in operation since 2000 when our headquarters in Hong Kong was opened. We opened our first Shanghai office in 2003 and to meet increasing demand in the country, we have recently opened an office in Beijing.

Since our launch, we have helped over 500,000 people find and secure quality health insurance coverage, as well as over 2,000 companies, select and manage quality employee benefits solutions that are built upon health insurance.

We strive to work with businesses of all sizes. In fact, of the 2,000+ companies in our portfolio, you will find leading multinational corporations, regional companies, international schools, and an ever-increasing number of small to medium enterprises.

For each of these companies, we help them to identify, secure, and manage a comprehensive employee benefits package that includes a variety of components discussed below. Together, this has led to 150,000+ employees receiving quality, reliable benefits.

What employee benefits solutions do we offer?

Regardless of the size of your business or team, Pacific Prime China’s corporate team can help you with your employee benefits. For each and every corporate client, we assign a dedicated team of advisors and support staff who strive to manage every aspect of your benefits solution thereby making it easier for you or your HR team to focus on your business.

When it comes to employee benefits, we believe that having a robust group insurance solution is the foundation of any successful benefits solution. To that end, our teams help you find the best coverage for your business. From there, we offer a range of other employee benefits and corporate solutions. These include:

  • Tailored employee wellness programs – Leveraging your base health insurance solution we can help tailor a wellness program to your staff’s requirements. From in-office health checkups and flu shots to ergonomic workstations and chiropractic visits, we can help arrange it all.
  • Business insurance – We offer a variety of insurance solutions designed to cover your business. From professional liability cover to property casualty, business interruption, and more we can ensure your business is covered. If you work in specific industries we can also ensure your coverage meets current regulations.  
  • Travel insurance – Cover your employees while they are out of the country.
  • Group life insurance – An increasingly popular benefit being demanded in China, our team can help you secure a group life plan that covers your employees and their families.
  • Multijurisdictional management – If you have offices in other provinces or countries we can help coordinate between them, ensuring that you have a comparable solution in each location, all managed centrally by your corporate advisors at Pacific Prime.

We don’t just stop at helping you find the right employee benefits solution. Unlike many other brokers, our teams are here to support you and your employees throughout the life of your solution. This unparalleled level of support helps to ensure that we maintain long lasting relationships with all of our clients.

How do we ensure you get the best package?

With a nearly infinite number of solutions out there, it can be hard to identify the “best” employee benefits solution for your company. As mentioned above, this is where Pacific Prime can help. Our experts work with you to identify your coverage needs and suggest options that will work best.

In order to do this, we have developed a unique service and support model that leverages what we refer to as a ‘broker framework’. This framework is comprised of three elements:

  • Consulting  
  • Policy broking  
  • Plan administration  

Together, these three elements allow us to offer the following services to all corporate clients:   

  • Analysis of market competitiveness
  • Employee claims and benefits assistance
  • Management reporting
  • Members orientations
  • Renewal processing
  • Plan design and cost control assistance
  • Annual benchmarking
  • Invoicing and account reconciliation
  • And more

By leveraging the above we work with you to identify and manage a solution that is right for your business.

To learn more about the corporate solutions we offer in China, check out our Beijing and Shanghai corporate flyers today, or contact us.

Posted by rmcbroom in Group Health Insurance
IVF in China: a new in vitro fertilization guide for parents

IVF in China: a new in vitro fertilization guide for parents

Infertility is a significant issue for many in China. The national infertility rate among all Chinese of childbearing age has risen a lot in the past two decades; from 3% in 1990 to 12.5% in 2010. More than 40 million people are suffering from infertility and, while the causes of fertility problems can be varied, the solutions for parents-to-be are few. To help, Pacific Prime China has released its new In Vitro Fertilization Guide 2017-2018 to help people understand more about the option of IVF in China.

Infertility in China: why might parents need in vitro fertilization?

Fertility problems are nothing to be ashamed of; the number of parents struggling to conceive is a growing trend around the world. In China, there have been a number of reasons for the falling rate of fertility in the country that’s leading many to seek out IVF treatments:

1. Unhealthy lifestyles

Scientists have long warned that an unhealthy lifestyle can have a negative impact on fertility. In particular, poor diets can decrease a person’s ability to conceive. Healthier people (those that eat well and exercise) are less likely to be at risk of ovulatory disorder infertility.

2. Environmental factors

People in China also suffer from a range of environmental factors. The impacts of pollution and stress are counted as having a part to play in increasing the risk of challenges for parents hoping to conceive.

3. Starting a family at a later age

Part of a global trend, women and men are waiting much later than previous generations to start a family. Social and economic pressure is at the heart of the decision; younger people in China are now globally mobile and more career focused than ever, meaning settling down and having children is being put on the backburner. Age affects women particularly, as their eggs are often held in reserve and their numbers deplete as they get older.

4. Sociopolitical impacts

As a related cause, there are suggestions that China’s One-Child Policy has also had an impact on fertility rates. Younger people without siblings are now working harder, and striving for better employment in order to care for their ageing parents. With the cost of having children greater than ever, it’s no wonder that many parents are waiting until their more financially stable to have children.

Image of the cover of Pacific Prime China's In Vitro Fertilization Guide 2017-2018Click this image to download the new guide

Exploring IVF options in China

In response to the growing infertility issue, the demand for IVF in China has been surging. So much so that in vitro fertilization clinics are popping up across the country, with a number of foreign companies looking to take advantage of what is seen to be the next biggest IVF market in the world. One positive for would-be parents is that treatment options in China are increasing. Our resource, the In Vitro Fertilization Guide 2017-2018, can help you understand these options.

So what can you expect to find out from our new guide?

  • An overview of IVF: Using our extensive knowledge of local and international healthcare options, our guide provides an overview of the IVF treatments found in the country’s biggest cities; Shanghai and Beijing. This includes information on the types of facilities available to those seeking in vitro fertilization treatments, as well as the patient and treatment figures these clinics see each year.
  • Estimates of IVF costs in China: One of the most important factors when seeking any sort of medical treatment, our guide outlines what you can expect to pay for IVF. While there are a number of factors to consider with such treatments (such as the number of cycles undertaken), you can expect one cycle to cost between RMB 30,000-40,000.
  • IVF health insurance advice: To help cover the cost of medical care, many expats and locals turn to health insurance. As an experienced insurance broker, Pacific Prime China provides advice on what to look for with medical plans in the country. This will help you be more prepared before undertaking any course of IVF in China.

This guide is completely free of charge and available to anyone who needs it. The information within was collected from our own databases of insurance companies and products, local and international hospital lists, and using the personal experiences and knowledge of our own staff. Using the guide can help you and your family better understand what IVF entails, and how to best seek out treatments in China.

Securing health insurance cover for in vitro fertilization

When people purchase health insurance, many don’t consider a potential future need for IVF treatments. Pacific Prime China does, indeed, have plans available that will cover in vitro fertilization costs. However, many come with a long wait period of 18 to 24 months before you can become eligible to make a claim on IVF benefits. Even standard maternity insurance benefits can have wait periods of 10 months or more.

If you’re planning on having a family, but you’re concerned about your ability to conceive naturally, contact the fantastic team at Pacific Prime China today. Our advisors have helped many families find the coverage they need in China to ensure that they have the best start possible when trying for a new child. Plans can be extremely flexible in coverage and benefits, and we can even include additional elements such as newborn insurance and medical coverage for young children.

Click here to read our new IVF guide, or visit our Health Guides page for more resources on maternity, top-up insurance, or the differences between Chinese Public and Private hospitals and care. To get some personal advice or a free insurance quote, contact the team at Pacific Prime China today.

Posted by Luther in Expat Health Insurance
Shanghai maternity insurance: hospitals, fees, and coverage options

Shanghai maternity insurance: hospitals, fees, and coverage options

For many expats wanting to start a family, securing Shanghai maternity insurance is absolutely vital. There are a number of risks and concerns when going through pregnancy, and these can be made more difficult when trying to navigate the health options of a foreign country. Shanghai, like most major cities in China, has a wide range of public and private facilities where you can plan to have your birth, however you’ll obviously want the best start for you and your baby.

This week, Pacific Prime China discusses some of the things you’ll find out about maternity insurance and giving birth in the city, following the launch of our new Maternity Insurance guide. If you’ve already seen it and you want to know how much your newborn coverage might cost, contact our team in Shanghai today!

Hospitals for maternity care in Shanghai

As a first tier city, Shanghai boasts modern healthcare infrastructure in both its public and private sectors. The local offerings include public hospitals and clinics, however these facilities are often frequented mainly by Chinese residents. There is no restriction on foreigners seeking treatment from the public sector, it’s simply that finding staff with with strong foreign language abilities and avoiding overcrowding can be difficult.

VIP clinics are a public alternative to local hospitals, providing associated hospital care specifically arranged to deliver services to expatriates. Generally, the care in these facilities is in English, and you can also arrange for more privacy during appointments, with more modern equipment than standard public hospitals. VIP clinics offer appointments with a preferred doctor where you can attend general check-ups, take lab tests, or have X-rays taken.

Private hospitals offer premium facilities, medical staff, and world-class equipment but at a premium cost. These international hospitals feature virtually no waiting lists, foreign-trained staff who speak multiple languages, and are generally more in line with the expectations you might have of a healthcare facility in your home country.

The cost of a pregnancy in Shanghai

Maternity care is among some of the most expensive medical charges commonly experienced by people. In Shanghai, it is common for hospitals to offer maternity packages that roll a number of common pregnancy-related checkups, tests, and appointments into one plan. The costs also vary from hospital to hospital, and our Shanghai Maternity Insurance guide provides figures relating to three top hospitals we recommend for maternity care:

Hospital Package Price (RMB)
Shanghai United Family Hospital Prenatal care

Normal delivery

C-Section delivery

Package A – 21,000

Regular/Premium – 58,000

Regular/Premium – 98,000

American-Sino Shanghai Prenatal care

Normal delivery

C-Section delivery

Package A – 21,000

Package A – 45,000

Package A – 70,000

Shanghai Peace International Hospital Prenatal care

Room fee

Normal delivery

C-Section delivery

Standard – 10,000/50,000

Semi private – 600/day

Regular – 8,000/15,000

Regular – 12,000/20,000

What’s important to know is that these costs are solely for prenatal care, delivery, and room charges. There may be extra charges for things such as doctor’s fees or hospital meals. Our Shanghai Maternity Insurance guide also delves deeper into the costs, providing hospital charges for specific pre and post-natal costs, as well as a discussion about the costs of unforeseen circumstances (which can be the most expensive unplanned cost should a complication arise during your pregnancy).

Coverage options to consider for a Shanghai pregnancy

Beyond the understanding of where to monitor your pregnancy, and how much it will cost, the main consideration you should keep in mind when it comes to Shanghai maternity insurance is why sort of coverage you’ll need. There are a number of different options available that you can choose from, and what you will and won’t need will depend on your personal situation. In general, there are a few things to think about that can make your whole maternity insurance experience easier:

  • Underwriting of the newborn: What sort of coverage, benefits, or restrictions will your insurer place on your newborn child?
  • Coverage for vaccinations: Will your plan cover vaccinations (which can often be expensive in China)?

  • Deductibles: What are your comfortable paying out-of-pocket to reduce the total cost of your maternity insurance premiums?

  • Waiting periods: What time restrictions will be placed on your policy that must elapse before any maternity benefits/coverage become active?

  • Billing and claims: Does the insurance plan offer the easier direct-billing method of payment, and how quick and simple does the insurer make their claims process?

  • Freedom of choice: What flexibility will the plan give you to choose your own hospital, doctor, clinic, or care plan?

All of these questions can help you better understand what your maternity insurance needs will be ahead of actually purchasing coverage. This means the more you know, the sooner you can get comparing quotes for insurance options in China. When it comes to this part of the process, you can make it even easier by engaging the services of a trusted, experienced insurance broker.

Shanghai maternity insurance solutions with Pacific Prime China

A pregnancy can be a beautiful but stressful time for some, but securing the best maternity insurance for your needs can help you get off on the right foot. Insurance options are plentiful in China, however getting through all of the solutions to find the best fit for you can be difficult and time consuming. Let our expert advisers at Pacific Prime China do the work. Our team has almost two decades of experience delivering the best maternity coverage in China, and abroad!

Try our online comparison tool for a free quote, or contact our consultants for more information today!

The information contained in this article is available from Pacific Prime China’s Shanghai Maternity Guide. To download your free copy, or view our other helpful China health insurance resources, click here.

Posted by Luther in Maternity Insurance