China health insurance

Bike-Sharing Insurance in China: Cities decide to protect riders

Bike-Sharing Insurance in China: Cities decide to protect riders

In years gone by, China had reached its peak saturation for bicycles. In the 1990s country had 670 million bikes on the roads. Since then, the population of China has grown, but the number of bikes out there has actually lowered to about half a billion. That number works out to about 1 bike per household in China, which would seem to make them fairly ubiquitous. To be sure, there are still more than double the number of bicycles on the roads of China than there are automobiles. Nevertheless, the gap in the umber between these two competing conveyances has been narrowing yearly. In fact, due to the increasing number of cars on the road, even with fewer bikes out there the roads in China are now more dangerous for cyclists than ever, and the government is pondering insisting on bike-sharing insurance.

There are new businesses in China that have a direct stake in road safety. Bicycle sharing companies have made noble strides toward providing quick and easy access to bikes in the hopes of getting more people cycling and reducing the amount of smog being pumped into the air by autos. No good deed goes unpunished though, as the government has laid out regulations that need to be met by these companies. What are the details? Find out more as we delve into this topic, as well as the issue of bike accidents in China more broadly.

Bike accidents in China

There are now over 40 cities in China that have over 1 million cars and trucks present in them. 11 of these even have over 2 million, including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Tianjin. There has been a boom in recent years when it has come to the number of motorized vehicles on China’s roads. While 2007 saw 59 million vehicles on the road in China, in 2015 this number had risen to 172 million. Today, China has the same number of vehicles on the road as the United States – 250 million – but also has 2 and a half times the number of child fatalities caused by traffic accidents. Along with this growth in vehicle population, there has been a distinct rise in the number of bicycle accidents. In fact, from 1992 to 2004, the mortality rate for bike riders in China almost doubled.  It has also been reported that the majority of fatalities in China road accidents are ‘vulnerable road users’, which include cyclists in addition to pedestrians and motorcyclists. There are 700 people that die in road accidents everyday in China, and 60% of these are vulnerable road users.  

Adding to the road accident issue in the country is the fact that, of the bicycles in use by the Chinese public today, about 200 million of them are e-bikes. These motorized bicycles can now go as fast as 30km/hr, and have also been partially attributed with the uptick in road accidents. Some cities, such as Shenzhen, have even gone so far as to ban the battery-powered bikes outright. This decision left the city’s 500,000 e-bike owners hung out to dry. Beijing has also banned e-bikes on certain streets in the city.

Bike-sharing insurance regulations

Bike-sharing companies in China, like Mobike and Ofo, have garnered greater and greater prominence in China’s transportation landscape in recent years, or even months.  As recently as 2017, it has been said these companies have brought over 2 million new bikes to China’s city streets. Unlike bike-sharing companies in other countries, these bikes are incredibly easy to access and use, as they can be picked up and left literally anywhere. However, the success of these companies and sheer number of bikes that have been added to the street have caught the attention of government regulators.

For example, recently in Shanghai, it’s rumored that an order was made that major bike-sharing companies must halt adding new bikes to their respective fleets. Similarly, it was recently announced that Beijing would become the 5th metropolitan area in China to start laying out firm regulations, including bike-sharing insurance requirements, for bike-sharing companies. Aspects of bike-sharing insurance mentioned include making claims processing for bicycle accidents more consumer friendly and encouraging bike-sharing companies to purchasing third party liability and personal accident insurance that will cover their customers. Additionally, the government believes that bike-sharing companies should be actively working to assist consumers with insurance claims related to accidents that involve their bikes. Cities including Nanjing, Shenzhen, Chengdu and more are all mulling over imposing insurance requirements on these companies.

Bicycle insurance and you

The above information may lead you to ask, “So if the government is imposing bike-sharing insurance regulations on companies that provide bicycles, does that mean I need to have insurance to ride my own private bike?” The answer, as you might expect, is no. Private citizens are free to ride their own bicycles without insurance.  Of course, doing so means that you are responsible for any and all damages you may do to others while riding your bike. You also may not be guaranteed to have your medical expenses taken care of if you are in an accident, even if it occurs through no fault of your own.

This can be important for expats in China should be especially concerned with, as getting into an accident without insurance coverage may end up with you receiving treatment in a public hospital that won’t be ideal. Not only because there can be issues created by long lines and quality of medical equipment, but also because only private international hospitals are expected to have doctors and staff that can speak English or other languages besides Mandarin.

If you are a cyclist in China, especially in urban areas with heavy vehicle traffic, you are going to want to make sure that you have a private medical insurance plan for two reasons. The first among these is to make sure that you are protected from burdensome medical debt should you be involved in a serious accident that may require surgery or feature complications. The second reason is so that you will have access to the best quality hospitals and doctors in your area, rather than risk being turned away due to not having proof that you will be able to pay.

In order to compare plans from local and international insurers and see all of your options quickly and easily, utilize the expertise of the helpful insurance advisers at Pacific Prime China. Our staff is standing by to give you a plan comparison and price quotation for plans that will provide you with health insurance coverage both in China and abroad.

Posted by Travis Jones in Health Insurance
Diabetes in China: the fast growing health issue

Diabetes in China: the fast growing health issue

The number of diabetes cases worldwide reached an alarming 422 million people according to a World Health Organization (WHO) study last year. Eat healthily, be active and avoid excessive weight gain is the advice of WHO chief Margaret Chan. Governments and organizations alike are being called upon to ramp up measures to reduce diabetes risk factors with the 1980s case figures only amounting to 108 million.

China, maybe somewhat surprisingly, is one of the biggest movers in diabetes cases worldwide. Little over ten years ago, the Chinese diet was being touted as a potential solution to the West’s obesity issue. Now, however, the country looks set to find itself facing a significantly growing diabetes problem. So how big is the problem, and what can people do to reduce the risk of developing diabetes in China?

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic condition which can affect the entire body. When someone has diabetes, their body finds it difficult to maintain healthy levels of glucose (a form of sugar). A hormone called insulin is used to successfully convert glucose into energy. Diabetes stops or restricts this process, and can leave high levels of energy in the blood of sufferers.

There are three types of diabetes; type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes:

  • Type 1: Occurs when the immune system attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, releasing little or no insulin to the body and causing sugar to build up in the blood. Between 5 to 10 percent of diabetes cases are Type 1.
  • Type 2: Occurs where the body cannot properly use the insulin that is released, or cannot make enough. This results in sugar also building up in the blood instead of being converted into energy. About 90 percent of people with diabetes suffer from Type 2.
  • Gestational diabetes: This is a temporary condition that can occur during pregnancy, affecting approximately 2 to 4 percent of all pregnancies. Its development can also lead to both mother and child developing type 1 or 2 diabetes later.

Having a high blood sugar level can cause complications such as chronic kidney disease, foot problems, non-traumatic limb amputation, eye disease and blindness, heart attack, stroke, anxiety, nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction. The exact causes of Type 1 diabetes is unknown but genetic susceptibility, environmental factors are strongly linked causes. Being overweight increases your risks of developing Type 2.

The growing problem of diabetes in China

With China accounting for 19 percent of the global population, the WHO study reveals that the country accounts for a significantly higher number of diabetes cases around the world. Of the 422 million cases, China accounts for 129.3 million; a whopping 30 percent of all cases. Even more concerning is the rate in which diabetes has grown in China. 9.4 percent of Chinese adults have diabetes, up from less than 1 percent in 1980.

The figures are concerning. Dr Hai-rim Shin, from the WHO’s regional office in Manila, told the SCMP that risk factors for diabetes in China has increased. 35.4 percent of Chinese adults are overweight, 7.3 percent are obese, and 23.8 percent of those studied were deemed to be “physically inactive” (not performing at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week).

Comparing China’s figures with the United States, American’s have a much higher proportion of overweight people (69.6 percent overweight, 35 percent obese, and 35 percent physically inactive), yet their prevalence of diabetes is a lower 9.1 percent. In the same article, the Asian Diabetes Prevention Initiative (ADPI) attributes this to Asians’ lower muscle mass and higher abdominal fat, both of which increase insulin resistance.

Finally, nationwide study in China has found a significant association between diabetes and all-cause mortality compared with those without diabetes. According to Dr Fiona Bragg, of the University of Oxford in England, the recent prevalence of diabetes in China makes its full on effect on mortality unknown, however it’s clear that those with diabetes experience a 9-year shorter lifespan.

Reducing your risk of diabetes

If you’re concerned about developing diabetes in China, then the ADPI has some general tips for reducing your risks:

  • Keep a healthy weight: This means be aware of any excess fat around your waist and adjusting your lifestyle in order to reduce body fat.
  • Eat a healthy diet: This includes reducing your consumption of refined grains, unhealthy fats and oils, red meat, and sugar.
  • Get active: Try to engage in as much physical activity during the week as possible; this includes small stuff like taking the stairs instead of an escalator, or walking rather than taking a car, train or bus when you can.

Exercise also helps reduce risk by improving your sleep and your mood, with both abnormal sleep and depression being linked to diabetes development.

Getting tested for diabetes is possible through your GP or hospital in a number of ways. The Glycated hemoglobin (A1C) test can determine whether you have Type 1, 2 or prediabetes, otherwise your doctor might screen you with a random blood sugar test, fasting blood sugar test, or an oral glucose test. Glucose testing (initial challenge and follow-up tolerance testing) for pregnant women helps screen for gestational diabetes.

Testing can generally be paid for by your insurance as long as diabetes is not already a pre-existing condition. Getting your glucose levels checked and having a conversation with your doctor can help you determine your risk of developing diabetes, as well as help you adjust your lifestyle to reduce risk. With such an exponential growth in rates of diabetes in China, getting checked might just save your life.

Get insured

Health insurance can help you pay for the costs associated with diabetes. It’s possible for policies to pay some or all of your testing costs, and some plans may even cover the costs of medicine and equipment for those living with diabetes. If you’re not sure your plan does provide coverage for diabetes, or you want to find health insurance coverage that will, contact the experts at Pacific Prime China.

Their agents are familiar with a range of packages that can comprehensively insure your health, and the health of your loved ones. For a free, no obligation quote, call Pacific Prime China today!

Posted by Luther in Illness
Motorbike changes in China: What it might mean for you

Motorbike changes in China: What it might mean for you

Last year China set itself an ambitious five-year plan to help address climate change. As part of its push to reduce emissions, some of you may remember news about the e-bike ban in March of 2016. The government moved to ban the use of e-bikes in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen in order to gradually remove illegal scooters and mopeds from the roads for safety and environmental reasons.

The result has seen a number of riders swarm motorcycle plate registration centers around Shanghai with many temporary plates for scooters and mopeds expiring on March 1 of 2017. In the Jiading District, about 600 applicants had arrived daily to get new plates for their vehicles near the Jia’an Highway. But why the rush and what does this mean for motorcycle riders in China?

Why are e-bikes, scooters and mopeds being targeted?

The China transportation authority statistics showed that 31,404 accidents in Beijing involved e-bikes, with 113 killed and over 21,000 injured. With the capital estimated to have four million e-bikes, the fact that they account for near 37% of all traffic accident injuries means the government has had to think of ways to deal with their high risk of incidents and rider habits of ignoring traffic rules.

Furthermore, vehicle emissions accounted for a whopping two-thirds of Beijing’s air pollution, with much of the danger also passing to nearby provinces such as Hebei. With all but one of the capital city’s power generation stations being non-renewable (including three coal powered stations), even the four million e-bikes will have their eco-friendly status tested during recharging.

New traffic fines for scooters and mopeds

In Shanghai, people riding scooters and mopeds without appropriate license plates could be fined up to ¥200 yuan if caught by traffic police. Applying for a plate is as simple as visiting a registration center with your identity card, a photocopy of your ID, and a certificate of quality for your scooter. Foreigners should also be aware that these laws also apply to them, so if you own a motorbike it’s worth checking that it’s road legal after March 1.  

Scooter and moped restrictions

The website SH Bicycle has a list of approved and legal mopeds/scooters, although the site’s content is currently only available in Chinese. In Shanghai, the city only allows scooters and mopeds with a top speed of 20 kilometers an hour or less. Riders should also note that the bike dimensions may only be 30 centimeters wide and 1.35 meters long.

If your vehicle exceeds those restrictions, you can expect the transport authority to decline your application for an approved license plate.

Staying safe on Chinese roads

One of the other reasons for the government targeting of mopeds and scooters is to reduce the chance of accidents, injury and death on the roads. With both campaigns against drunk driving and testing delivery drivers on road safety, roads in Shanghai and other cities can be fairly dangerous. Getting vehicle insurance is smart for ensuring your personal property, but what about your health?

Pacific Prime China has a number of expert advisers who can make sure you’re insured healthcare-wise should something happen on Chinese roads. Their more than 15 years’ experience means that you can be sure that the insurance coverage you pay for will cover you if the unthinkable happens.

For a free quote, or for just some friendly advice on insuring your health as a motorbike rider, contact the team at Pacific Prime China today!

Posted by Luther in Expat 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