Health Insurance

All the latest articles on health insurance in China.

Expat dental insurance in China: Things to consider

Expat dental insurance in China: Things to consider

It is widely known that the cost of dental care varies greatly in China. This is especially true for private clinics, as you will find that advertised prices for dental procedures differ in every facility. Many expats prefer private clinics for treatment from staff that speak their language, the superior service offered, and flexible consultation times. These perks do however come with a hefty price tag, so securing expat dental insurance can be a great way to access high quality care without breaking the bank.

What’s the current status of dental health in China?

Historically speaking, dental health awareness is generally lacking in China. However, living standards have improved considerably in recent years, which has led to a greater number of people paying attention to their dental health. This, combined with the fact that roughly 94 percent of the population has some form of dental condition, makes it understandable that demand for dental care is growing in the country.

Growing demand for dental care

Despite the growing number of private dental clinics in China, supply is still very much outpaced by demand. When compared to the supply of dentists in Western countries, China lags behind with only 100 dentists per one million people. This is a stark difference from 1,270 dentists per one million in Greece, 830 dentists per one million in Sweden, and 770 dentists per one million in Germany. However, over the upcoming years, the dental sector is set to grow amidst a burgeoning middle class, as well as increasing openness to foreign investment in China.

How dental insurance works

Typically speaking, many employer-provided health insurance plans won’t provide dental benefits, which is why many expats choose to secure a separate plan that includes dental coverage. In most cases, dental insurance is available to purchase as a supplementary benefit on top of a health insurance plan at an additional premium.

The cost of this additional premium differs between plans and by insurer, but you can expect that adding dental benefits will result in a higher premium than a similar plan without these benefits.

What does expat dental insurance in China cover?

In China, there are two main types of dental insurance coverage: Routine Dental Treatment and Major Dental Treatment.

Routine Dental Treatment covers more common forms of dental care such as:

  • Consultations and exams
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Fillings
  • Tooth extraction
  • Emergency dental treatment
  • X-rays
  • Prescriptions

If you require more comprehensive dental benefits, then there is also the option of Major Dental Treatment, which covers more extensive forms of dental procedures. As such, this option charges a higher premium than Routine Dental Treatment. Coverage for Major Dental Treatment will usually include:

  • Periodontic (gum) treatment
  • Bridgework
  • Orthodontic work (e.g. braces)
  • Dentures
  • Crowns
  • Root scaling

Please note that most dental policies only cover treatments that are considered medically necessary, so cosmetic procedures such as tooth whitening won’t be covered, although some plans do offer discounts on certain types of cosmetic dental work.

Does the plan have a waiting period?

It’s not unusual to find a waiting period on dental plans lasting anywhere from 1 month to 24 months. This is the period of time you will need to wait once you’ve purchased your plan before you can make a claim on any dental benefits. During this time, you will likely receive little to no benefits.

Will you be travelling for dental care?

Travelling for dental care has become increasingly common in China, and there are many popular travel destinations nearby (e.g. Thailand and Malaysia) that boast excellent dental facilities at a great value. If you’re considering travelling overseas for treatment, or if you travel and/or move countries often and would like the option of keeping up with your annual dental check-ups wherever you are in the world, securing international insurance coverage may be an ideal option for you and your family. Designed with the needs of expats in mind, these international plans are globally portable, meaning that you will be covered in any country where your plan can be used.

When it comes to shopping around for an expat dental insurance plan, there can be quite a few things to consider, and also a variety of policy stipulations and limitations to watch out for. That is why it often pays to seek advice from an insurance expert like Pacific Prime China. To talk to one of our experienced advisors, feel free to contact us today!

Posted by Jess in Health Insurance
China health insurance: Pros and cons of local vs. international plans

China health insurance: Pros and cons of local vs. international plans

Working abroad in China can be both a wondrous and daunting experience. In a land with such a rich culture and varied terrain, one can easily be captivated by the country’s beauty and color. However, the environmental hazards that have come with modernization and challenges faced by those that are not fluent in Mandarin can certainly take a toll on China newbies. Perhaps this is no better exemplified than the Chinese healthcare system, where greatly varying levels of care and foreigner-friendliness can leave expats guessing as to which direction to go. On top of the issue of medical care, there is also the issue of payment. That’s why it’s good to have an overview of the pros and cons of both international and local China health insurance plans, which Pacific Prime China provides below.

China health insurance

Before getting into the pros and cons of each type of plan, it would be good to mention the pros and cons of insurance policies themselves. This gives us a good base of knowledge before we focus on the finer aspects of local vs. international health insurance.

Pros

  • Having private China health insurance allows for access to private healthcare facilities with doctors that speak languages from all over the world. If your medical Mandarin is far from fluent, this is going to go a long way towards helping put you at ease should you need to visit the hospital with a serious condition. After all, effective communication with medical professionals is a must when it comes to effectively addressing your own health needs.
  • Another advantage of accessing private hospitals in China is the shorter waiting times that are found there. This will ensure that you are not placed on a waiting list to receive treatment should the hospital deem it to not be an emergency. Private hospitals will treat you quickly and efficiently.
  • Finally, private hospitals, while they cost more for treatment, generally provide a higher quality of care for their patients. This is due to their possession of the latest medical equipment, as well as internationally trained medical staff.

Cons

Medical insurance isn’t without its drawbacks, including the following:

  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Exclusions
  • Age limits

However, depending on your specific needs, there may be plans available that address these items.

Now let’s dig into the differences between local and international China health insurance.

Local insurance

Pro

By far the biggest advantage of sticking with a local insurance plan is that it will always come with a lower price tag. Since medical costs are well controlled in China, insurers recognize that the risk to them when it comes to covering said costs are not as high. Comparatively, places like the United States and Hong Kong have some of the most expensive healthcare in the world. Therefore, if an insurance company provides global coverage, they are opening themselves up to greater risk, so they charge a higher premium.

Con

As alluded to above, local China health insurance plans only provide healthcare coverage inside of China. This means that if you were to travel anywhere outside of Mainland China’s borders, you will not have any health insurance coverage with your local plan, and will have to pay for treatment out of pocket unless you secure a separate insurance plan.

International insurance

Pros

  • Pretty much the main reason to purchase an international health insurance plan is the freedom of choice that it affords you. Not only can you travel to virtually any country worldwide in order to receive medical treatment, you can also choose any hospital or doctor worldwide as well. You will never have to think, “I wonder if they’ll even treat me in this country,” because you will always have proof that you are covered by a reputable global insurance company.
  • Another often overlooked feature of international health insurance plans is that you can take your policy with you no matter where you go. With local insurance plans, if you or your family decides to move outside of China permanently, you will have to purchase a new insurance policy in your new home country. Under this scenario, any conditions developed while on your local China insurance plan will likely be treated as pre-existing conditions by the next insurer, and coverage will not be able to be obtained in many cases. However, with an international plan, you can simply take your plan with you and still receive full coverage.
  • Finally, there are features that you can find in an international health insurance plan that are not present in local plans. For example, medical evacuation is included in international plans. This feature will relocate you to the nearest appropriate medical facility if the one you are in is ill equipped to address your medical needs. If possible, you may even be able to be flown home for treatment. Many international plans also come with 24 hour customer assistance that will help you make medical arrangements when you are abroad. The assistance this service provides can certainly be invaluable.

Con

Again costs are higher when it comes to international health insurance. You do potentially get a whole world more out of your plan, but you need to make sure that an international health insurance plan is right for you. If you rarely travel, a plan with global coverage may be unnecessary. However, if you do find yourself outside of the country regularly, this type of plan may be ideal for you.

Regardless of which type of insurance is right for you, Pacific Prime China can help. We specialize in international health insurance plans that provide coverage both in your country of residence, as well as virtually anywhere else in the world. Of course, we also sell local plans that will address costs only in China for a lower premium. For more information, contact the helpful insurance advisers at Pacific Prime China today! They are standing by to answer any of your questions, provide you with plan comparisons from some of China’s best insurance companies, and give you a free price quote.

Posted by Travis Jones in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance
Maternity Insurance in China: Can you buy when you’re already pregnant?

Maternity Insurance in China: Can you buy when you’re already pregnant?

Mothers-to-be have so much to think about and plan for with regards to the arrival of their new bundle of joy. Baby showers, room decorations, picking the right colors for everything depending on if it will be a boy or a girl. These are the types of fun things that people prefer to focus on when imagining their new family unit. What we don’t like to think about are the unpleasant thoughts of what could go wrong during pregnancy, labor and delivery. This is a sad fact, as planning ahead is imperative if you want to make sure that your new baby is completely covered by medical insurance no matter what happens. Here, Pacific Prime China examines how you can make sure your newborn is covered by maternity insurance in China.

What is Maternity Insurance and what does it cover?

Maternity Insurance in China is a separate type of coverage from what normally comes with health insurance coverage. This is because it is specially designed to address the costs associated with the development and birth of a new baby. Since a certain amount of cost is all but guaranteed should a woman become pregnant, as opposed to normal health insurance, in which some people may not get sick while insured, these plans can be a bit pricey and come with restrictions, perhaps the biggest of which are waiting periods, which we will address below.

As far as specific benefits provided by Maternity Insurance, after conception it includes benefits for pre-natal care, which can include medical consultations, regular checkups, ultrasounds, blood and urine tests, birth defect screenings and more. Then, once your bun has been in the oven long enough, Maternity Insurance will pay for the costs of labor and delivery, as well as costs related to the treatment of any complications at birth for both mother and child. It should be noted here that Maternity Insurance provides benefits regardless of your baby being born naturally or via caesarian section.

Beyond these items which are normally covered by Maternity Insurance, plans can also provide benefits for fertility treatment (including In-Vitro Fertility treatment), and costs related to treatment of congenital birth defects.

Why obtain Maternity Insurance in China?

Generally speaking, what level of insurance coverage would parents want when it comes to the birth of their new child? The best, of course! However, without Maternity Insurance, your options for affordable labor and delivery can be limited. This is because the best healthcare provided in China is found in private hospitals, which are a great deal more expensive than what you can expect to pay at public facilities. In fact, you can pay as much as RMB 100,000 for a maternity delivery package in a Chinese public hospital in a city like Shanghai.

Beyond just the price and level of care, there are other considerations that expatriates living in China should account for. One of the largest among these is the potential language barrier. If you are not fluent in Mandarin, then you may have trouble communicating with staff at public hospitals in China, which could be a source of great tension and worry if things seem to go the slightest bit wrong. At private hospitals in China, there are internationally trained doctors and finding one that speaks your language should not be too much trouble. This is all the more reason to ensure that you are free to attend a private hospital.

Waiting periods

A waiting period is a specific amount of time that must pass following the start of an insurance policy before a claim can be made against it. While most of the time waiting periods are not a hugely significant amount of time, when it comes to Maternity Insurance in China, they can be quite lengthy, and make all the difference in the world as to whether your pregnancy, labor and delivery will be covered or not. This is because many insurance companies will make their members possess maternity insurance for 12 months before it can be claimed against.

Now, you may be doing the math and saying, “Wait a minute. That means that if I get Maternity Insurance just before I get pregnant, I won’t have any coverage for my pregnancy.” That’s right. Not only is it far too late to have the lab tests, doctors visits, labor and delivery covered after a child has already been conceived, even if you won’t be pregnant for a month Maternity Insurance is almost certainly likely to not pay out. While there are plans available with waiting periods of only 10 months, this is likely the shortest you will find on the market. And even with a 10 month waiting period, you would want to avoid getting pregnant one month after obtaining such a plan because pre-mature births do happen, and you could miss out on covering birthing costs if the baby comes early.

What to do if it’s too late for maternity coverage

In the event that you are pregnant and do not have a Maternity Insurance plan in place, your options are certainly more limited, but there are still steps you can take to protect your baby as much as possible. Specifically, obtaining a newborn health insurance policy would be an excellent idea.  While this type of insurance does not address costs associated specifically with pregnancy, labor, delivery, or complications that occur prior to birth, after your baby arrives it can be invaluable. This is because, even after getting through the entire birthing process, a newborn is still quite vulnerable to a whole host of diseases that can be acquired almost immediately once he or she is out in the open.

The moral of the story: Plan ahead!

Obviously, if you want to get Maternity Insurance in China, you are going to need to overcome the waiting periods attached to most plans. That means that you need to have a plan in place well ahead of when you plan to conceive in order to be covered through the duration of your pregnancy – up to a year in advance of conception! For this reason, communicate openly with your partner about the timing of your next baby, and get your Maternity Insurance plan now and not when it’s too late.

If you have any questions about the information presented above, or when to secure maternity insurance before it is too late, contact the knowledgeable insurance experts at Pacific Prime China. Our agents are standing by to not only provide you with comparisons of insurance plans offered by China’s best insurers, but also give you a free price quote.

Posted by Travis Jones in Health Insurance, Maternity Insurance
Having the healthiest pregnancy possible in China

Having the healthiest pregnancy possible in China

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.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance

Looking at medical insurance inflation in China

As we reported last week, we have released our latest report on international private medical insurance inflation (IPMI). The report is available as a free download now from our website here. As we mentioned in the last article, IPMI premiums in China inflated by an average of 12.06% in 2016, up from 9.50% in 2015. In this article, we take a look at how China compares regionally when it comes to medical inflation and some China-specific drivers behind the increased inflation.

 

Medical insurance inflation in China compared with Asia

From the chart below we can see that IPMI plans in Asia saw an average inflation of 9.90% in 2016, which was slightly higher than the global average of 9.22%. This is intriguing in that it could indicate an emerging trend where inflation in Asia will track higher than globally.

For 2016 however, China was not actually the location with the highest health insurance inflation, that honor went to Hong Kong which saw premiums inflate by an average of 13.03%. This would put China as having the second highest average inflation figure of the countries included in the report. The third highest is Singapore, which saw an average inflation of 11.18% in 2016.

China’s location as the country with the 2nd highest average medical insurance inflation is not overly surprising, especially when you look at our Cost of Health Insurance 2016 report which found that China was the third most expensive country for health insurance out of 95 countries.

 

Breaking China’s inflation down by insurer

Aside from presenting the average inflation figure for the country, this report also presents the average inflation by insurer.

As you can see from the graph above, inflation in China ran anywhere from 6.62% to 31.21%. As with the global ranking of insurers: Allianz Worldwide Care, AXA PPP Healthcare, Bupa Global, and William Russell are all among the providers with the lowest inflation.

One thing to note here is that IntegraGlobal’s 31.21% increase is not reflective of the premiums they charge – they are not charging the highest premiums in China. Rather, their inflation figure shows an adjustment to market rates, putting their plans about on par with the other providers in the country.

 

Country specific IPMI inflation drivers

In the report, there are 7 drivers of IPMI inflation identified as having an impact on a global scale:

  • New medical technology
  • An imbalance of healthcare resources
  • Increased compensation for healthcare professionals
  • Healthcare overutilization
  • Unstable economies
  • Changing population dynamics
  • The increasing availability of technology

Insurance in China, especially health insurance, has certainly been affected one way or another by the above drivers, especially unstable economies, changing population dynamics, and imbalance of healthcare resources. Of the above drivers one of the most influential is changing population dynamics.

Everyone who has lived in, or followed China’s rise to prominence has seen a drastic shift in population wealth. According to an article from Business Insider in 2015, China has the largest number of millionaires in the world, with the number expected to grow in the near future. Beyond that, China also has the largest middle class in the world. What this has equated to is a larger number of people with spending money.

As such, people in China are increasingly demanding better products including better health care, with an ever increasing number of high net worth (HNW) individuals seeking care from private hospitals. This increase in demand has seen the number of private hospitals boom in the country, and with it have come higher prices. To offset this, local HNWs have been increasingly turning to international health insurance as a way to offset the costs.

Pacific Prime’s China office has certainly seen an increase in the number of local HNWs securing coverage and submitting claims. This, in turn, leads to higher costs for care and therefore higher premiums.

Interestingly. It is well known that the number of HNW expats in China is decreasing. This should lead to a decrease in demand for IPMI, but the opposite is happening. The higher concentration of HNW local citizens demanding coverage is looking to eventually eclipse demand for coverage in China and therefore continue to drive an increase in inflation figures.  

While increasing demand and changing demographics is certainly not the only factor driving IPMI inflation, it is highly likely that it is one of the most important, especially for China. In the future, it would be entirely possible to see inflation continue to increase, and could possibly remain higher than the global average.

To learn more about IPMI inflation, the other drivers, and how the other countries are ranked get your FREE copy of the International Private Medical Insurance Inflation – 2017 report on our website now.  

Posted by rmcbroom in Health Insurance