China 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
Men in China should watch out for these diseases

Men in China should watch out for these diseases

When it comes to a man and his sense of manhood, there isn’t much that is more important to him than his sexual health and overall vitality. After all, as animals every man has an evolutionary predisposition to want to reproduce, and if a man cannot fulfill this duty he may feel that he is something less than a man. While we know that this is not the case, it’s nevertheless important to maintain sexual health, as it is an excellent indicator for general wellness and quality of life as a man ages. Just as in the rest of the world, there are certain ailments that men in China need to be concerned about, as they may be at risk. Here, we talk about some of these illnesses, as well as the best ways to prevent and treat them while living in China.

Diseases prevalent among men in China

In this case we’re referring to diseases that can ultimately lead to a man’s death. You may know this already, but the two most common causes of death in men worldwide are cardiovascular disease and cancer, and China is no different. What’s more, men in China are more likely to die due to these kinds of diseases than women.

Heart disease: Despite being the number one killer of people worldwide, heart disease is the 2nd largest killer of men in China, accounting for 22% of total deaths. Men disproportionately engage in risky behavior for heart disease vis-à-vis women when it comes to smoking and alcohol consumption, so it is up to individuals to control these types of habits if they want to reduce their risk.

Cancer: As the #1 killer of people in China, cancer accounts for more than 7,500 deaths per day. In 2015, it is estimated that 4.3 million people developed cancer, with 2.8 million people dying of the disease. While men’s health news tends to focus on prostate and testicular cancer, neither of these is counted in the top 5 cancers among men in China, which include colorectal, liver, esophagus, stomach and lung cancers. These 5 types of cancer account for over two thirds of male cancer cases. Men in China are more likely to not only develop cancer, but to die because of it.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs): Also known as sexually transmitted infections, the prevalence of STDs has shown signs of dramatic increases in the past decade. For example, while cases of HIV/AIDS recorded in 2010 numbered 500,000, this number inflated to 800,000 in 2011. Other sexually transmitted diseases to be worried about in China include Chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea and syphilis. Admittedly, up to date information on the prevalence of specific STDs in China is somewhat hard to come by, so it’s hard to say for sure just how big of a danger unprotected sex is in China in 2017, but certainly it is better to be safe than sorry when potentially life threatening diseases are involved.

Risks

Beyond the illnesses mentioned above there are some risk factors that are prevalent in China that can lead to them. One of the chief among these is tobacco use. 52.9% of Chinese male adults smoke tobacco, with 45.4% of the male population smoking daily. Even among the youth in China (aged 13-15), more than one in ten young men smoke tobacco regularly. This is quite a striking difference from female smoking numbers, which show only 2.4% of adults and 1.8% of young ladies smoking frequently. Additionally, the World Health Organization has reported that the global average of deaths attributable to smoking in 1990 was 6%, while in China it was 9.2%. The latter figure is expected to rise to 16.6% by 2020.

As far as what this means for men’s health, respiratory diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can be a direct result of smoking. Not to mention lung cancer, which has been the most common form of cancer in China in recent years not only because of the prevalence of smoking, but also because of the air pollution issues facing the country. It is posited that by the year 2020 there will be 800,000 new lung cancer cases each year in China. Smoking also is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and a host of other health problems, as it is believed to lower general overall health and even cause reduced fertility.

Other major risk factors for health include weight/obesity, alcohol intake, and sedentary living.

Getting protection

Of course, the very best way to protect yourself from heart disease, cancer and respiratory disease is prevention. Diet and exercise to keep weight low and your heart strong are highly advisable. Also, try your best to avoid air pollution and limit your intake of alcohol, tobacco and other controlled substances. As far as sexually transmitted diseases are concerned, practicing safe sex by using condoms greatly reduces risk, but regular screenings are also a great idea.

As you can tell from the information above, men in China do have a number of things to worry about when it comes to their health. For this reason, it may be beneficial for men to have a comprehensive health insurance plan in place to provide efficient medical treatment and protection from related costs. This is especially true for expatriate men living in China, as they are far more likely to attend higher cost private hospitals rather than public hospitals where communication can be an issue.

Pacific Prime China offers international health insurance plans that will be attractive to expats in China due to the fact that they provide medical insurance coverage both inside the PRC and back in their home country, as well as virtually any country around the world. To find out if this type of insurance plan is right for you, contact the helpful insurance advisers at Pacific Prime today. They can provide you with plan comparisons from major insurance companies and give you a free quote.

Posted by Travis Jones in Illness