health insurance

Public Shanghai hospitals, VIP clinics, and international hospitals: 6 key differences

Public Shanghai hospitals, VIP clinics, and international hospitals: 6 key differences

“Where should I go for care?” is usually one of the top questions asked by newcomers to Shanghai. Ever since mid-2014, when the Chinese government permitted wholly foreign owned hospitals in seven cities and provinces, the quality and choice of care for locals and expats have improved considerably. Primary healthcare choices available to expats and residents today include public Shanghai hospitals, the VIP clinics present at larger public hospitals, and international hospitals/clinics. Here, we’ve highlighted the main differences between the three types of facilities.

1. Booking an appointment

Few public Shanghai hospitals offer the ability to book appointments, and in most cases people who use such facilities will need go to the hospital and buy a registration ticket there (this will cost around RMB 14). Recent improvements, however, have made it easier to book an appointment through new healthcare apps. That being said, most of these apps require a Chinese ID number, so most expats will not be able to use them.

A select number of public hospitals also have so-called VIP clinics, sometimes in conjunction with foreign companies, where services provided are more personalized, and amenities are more pleasant. These clinics generally allow the ability to book appointments. If you speak little to no Mandarin, however, you may find it difficult to successfully book an appointment over the phone in English. If that is the case, you might just have to show up and request for an appointment in person.

International hospitals generally have a dedicated hotline for booking appointments with your preferred doctor. Administrative staff are generally able to communicate in English, and may be able to speak a range of other languages, too. This means it’s generally quite easy to book an appointment in your preferred language. Many international clinics and hospitals (e.g. ParkwayHealth) also feature online booking forms on their website, which can make things a lot easier and less time consuming when requesting an appointment.

2. Wait times

As mentioned in our recent article on beating public hospital queues, long wait times and delays in seeking treatment are commonplace in public Shanghai hospitals. The relatively affordable public system not only attracts the majority of Shanghai’s 23 million person population, but also those who live in neighboring areas. This translates to very long wait times that are in most cases well over an hour. Many will even need to miss one day’s work (sometimes even more) to complete their consultation/tests.

To avoid long wait times, VIP clinics and international hospitals would be favorable, as doctors in these facilities will generally be able to see you quickly. As these facilities take care of fewer patients, doctors will likely dedicate more time in treating and learning more about each of their patients. This extra care can be very valuable for patients, as they are more likely to leave the hospital feeling confident that they have received the best care.

3. Cost

One of the largest differences between public Shanghai hospitals, VIP clinics, and international hospitals is cost. Public hospitals in China are much less expensive than the latter facilities. In public hospitals, you can expect to pay less than RMB 20 for a general check-up, and only RMB 150 to see a specialist.

On the other hand, the cost of tests and treatments at VIP clinics can easily be several times the fees charged at standard public hospitals. For example, general consultations start at about RMB 600 at VIP clinics. As can be expected, international hospitals are usually the most expensive. In these facilities, you will likely pay around RMB 1,200 to RMB 1,500 for a general consultation.

As can be seen above, fees charged at VIP clinics and international hospitals are significantly more expensive than standard public hospital fees. This is why many locals and expats alike secure private health insurance to save hundreds and thousands on their medical expenses.

4. Language barrier

If you speak only very basic or no Mandarin at all, and would like to seek care at a public Shanghai hospital, be sure to bring a Chinese-speaking friend along with you when you go to the hospital. This is because most administrative staff, nurses, and other medical staff at public facilities speak little-to-no English. Most local Shanghai doctors can read, write, and speak some English, but not many are fluent.

Doctors and other staff at VIP clinics generally have a better grasp of the English language than their standard public counterparts, but not all staff will be able to speak English fluently or to a reasonable standard. Doctors working in international hospitals, however, are generally foreigners or Chinese who have been trained overseas. Their English skills are, therefore, generally excellent. A number of these doctors are also able to speak several other foreign languages (e.g. French, Japanese).

5. Equipment

Many in China hold the general perception that the equipment used at public Shanghai hospitals are of a higher quality than the equipment in smaller town/city hospitals. Generally speaking, this is true, particularly at larger facilities where you can expect to find reasonably high quality, imported or local equipment. Due to the higher budgets available to VIP clinics, and especially international hospitals, they generally spend more on newer, state-of-the-art medical technology. This can be crucial, especially for more complex procedures.

6. Comfort level

Public facilities are generally less clean than what many people from overseas are used to, and comfort levels can be quite basic – e.g. crowded wards, and only very basic amenities. If you’re staying overnight at a hospital, please be aware that you’ll likely need to bring your own toiletries with you, and food options are often quite limited. Those who want more privacy can choose to stay at VIP semi-private or private wards, which are generally a lot more comfortable and quite similar to those at international hospitals. Their consultation rooms are usually larger, too.

If you’re after some pampering, some international hospitals go one step beyond to offer high-end perks like butler service, personalized meals, and even private clubhouses on hospital grounds. The extra extravagant perks offered at select international hospitals do come with a hefty price tag, but can make all the difference for patients and their families, as well as make recovery a little more bearable.

So, what’s the best Shanghai hospital option for me?

At the end of the day, which facility you go to is entirely up to you. There are many considerations you might want to make, such as what you can afford, as well as your language, and comfort preferences. However, if you are looking to access superior quality and personalized service in the fastest time possible, Pacific Prime China recommends obtaining private health insurance to give you the option of accessing the VIP or international hospital care you desire.

Want to learn more about healthcare in Shanghai?

If you have any more questions, or would like to learn more about healthcare in China’s most populous expat city, download our newly released hospital guide today. Titled: Public and Private Healthcare in Shanghai, the free resource provides handy information not only on the differences between public, VIP, and international hospital care, but also the history of healthcare in China, cost and insurance coverage options, as well as how emergencies are handled.

Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team of experts today. With years of experience in Shanghai, our advisors know the ins and outs of the city’s hospital system, as well as how to find the best plan to access the best care. They’re also on hand to give you impartial advice, as well as a free quote!

 

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Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance
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
New guide compares public and private Shanghai healthcare

New guide compares public and private Shanghai healthcare

If you’re new to the city, or looking to learn more about your Shanghai healthcare options, our new Public and Private Healthcare in Shanghai guide could prove to be a valuable resource in helping you find the best care possible. Best of all, the new free guide answers the top questions asked by expats moving to or living in Shanghai, and provides useful information on public vs private hospitals, what you can expect to pay at different facilities, the health insurance options available, and more.

Download Pacific Prime China’s latest guide from our Health Insurance Guides page today, or read on to learn more about our latest resource and what it covers.

Inside our Public and Private Healthcare in Shanghai guide

As the most populous city in China, Shanghai is home to a high number of public and private healthcare facilities, with many options catering to different budget and language requirements. The quality of care, however, can vary significantly depending on which facility you go to. This, coupled with the language barrier for non-Chinese speakers, can make it difficult for expats looking to find the best Shanghai healthcare. As such, we’ve created our new Public and Private Healthcare guide to demystify the healthcare options available to expats in the city.

Download our guide today to learn about:

  • The history of healthcare in China
  • The differences between public hospitals, VIP clinics, private hospitals, and international hospitals
  • The cost of care and your health insurance options
  • How to handle medical emergencies in Shanghai

Below, we take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions that our new Shanghai healthcare guide can help answer:

What are the main differences between public and private hospitals in Shanghai?

In Shanghai, there are several types of healthcare facilities to choose from:

Public hospitals and VIP clinics

As a first-tier city, Shanghai has a relatively modern healthcare infrastructure. Public hospital care is usually very affordable, but please be aware that the quality of care can vary significantly depending on which hospital you go to. Public facilities can also be very overcrowded, and are sometimes far less clean than what most Westerners are accustomed to. Coupled with long waiting times and a lack of English speaking doctors, it’s easy to see why most foreigners prefer seeking care at VIP clinics, private hospitals, or international hospitals.

Large public hospitals in Shanghai will have what are called VIP clinics, which are associated with public hospitals but often have English-speaking doctors, the ability to book an appointment with a preferred doctor, and more privacy. That said, VIP clinics often only operate during working hours, and charge higher fees than their non-VIP counterpart.

Private and international hospitals

As China started welcoming foreign investment in private hospitals, private care has continued to flourish around the country and in urban centers like Shanghai. Many private facilities have been outfitted with outstanding medical technology. Most expats prefer seeking treatment at private or foreign-run international hospitals to benefit from short waiting times, the ability to book appointments with a preferred doctor, world-class healthcare, and more comfortable hospital accommodation if inpatient care is required. Costs at private and international hospitals, however, easily cost over ten times the price charged for the same treatment at a public hospital. As such, health insurance is highly recommended.

What are my health insurance options?

While national health insurance coverage in China is near-universal, few foreign residents and expats have access to the same coverage benefits as Chinese citizens. Expats are therefore highly advised to secure either a local or international private health insurance policy.

What do I do during a medical emergency?

One of the most important things to prepare for when moving to Shanghai is, of course, what you need to do when faced with a medical emergency. You should be aware that private hospitals are prohibited from privately owning an ambulance fleet. Ambulances in Shanghai are managed by the Shanghai ambulance center with personnel who generally speak little to no English; and sometimes they can be slow to respond to emergency calls. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why many prefer to take a taxi when a medical emergency occurs.

Download our Public and Private Healthcare guide today

To get the answers to all your questions on healthcare in Shanghai, be sure to download our free guide here today. We’ve also released a whole host of other useful guides on health-insurance related topics, which you can access from our Health Insurance Guides page here.

Looking for more in-depth information on Shanghai healthcare, or your health insurance options? Be sure to get in touch with the helpful advisors at Pacific Prime China today, who can offer impartial advice, match you with the best plan based on your needs, and give you a free quote.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance, News
Family health insurance in China: 10 tips on getting the right plan

Family health insurance in China: 10 tips on getting the right plan

Protecting the health and wellbeing of your family with the right family health insurance plan will give you all much-needed peace of mind and financial security should any unexpected illnesses occur. Those looking for a family plan will quickly discover that there’s no such thing as a one-version-fits-all health insurance policy, as the right coverage will depend on your family’s needs. To help, we’re going to cover the following 10 most important things to consider when it comes to securing the right health insurance plan for your family.

1. Choosing the right level of coverage for your needs

When finding a family health insurance plan in China, one of the most important things you will need to make a decision on is your family’s required level of coverage. Coverage levels vary significantly between different insurers and plans; Some plans will only cover basic hospitalization fees, whereas more comprehensive plans will cover GP visits, checkups, vaccinations, maternity, etc. Below are the three main levels of coverage:

Inpatient only

Typically speaking, inpatient plans cover any treatment that the patient is admitted to hospital for, i.e. treatments that involve a stay at the hospital. This includes coverage for expenses like surgery charges, ambulance, operating theater fees, anesthetist charges, etc. Inpatient plans from reputable insurers will tend to also include cover for emergency evacuation, cancer coverage, emergency cases of chronic conditions, etc. When securing health insurance for your family, we advise that you at least get inpatient coverage, as these treatments can be extremely expensive in China.

Inpatient and outpatient

The outpatient benefit is an optional addition to inpatient coverage, and covers medical treatment that does not require hospitalization, eg. day to day doctors, specialist visits, and prescription medication. Sometimes outpatient coverage will also include physiotherapy and chiropractic treatments as well as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment, e.g. acupuncture.

Full coverage

For more comprehensive coverage, there’s also the option to include extra add-on benefits in your plan for maximum protection. These add-ons, often referred to by insurers as “riders”, include options such as maternity, vision, and dental coverage.

Know this about maternity insurance

For those thinking of welcoming a new addition to their family, it can’t be stressed enough how important it is to plan for the future and secure maternity insurance well ahead of conception. This is because maternity plans tend to come with a waiting period of around 10 to 12 months (and sometimes even longer), meaning that you’ll need to wait that period of time before you can receive any reimbursements on claims made against that benefit.

2. Deductible and copayment options

Cost sharing options such as introducing a deductible or a copayment to your plan can be a great way to get a discount on your premium.

A deductible is the amount of money you must pay first, either on an ‘annual, per person’ basis or an ‘annual, per medical condition, per person basis’, before your insurer pays anything. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the deductible, the lower your premium will be – and vice versa. It is often advised that people choose to have a higher deductible on their inpatient coverage and a lower one on their outpatient treatment (if applicable), as it is much more likely that you and your family will be using the outpatient benefit.

On the other hand, a copayment is the amount you pay each time you submit a claim after the deductible has been met. As with deductibles, introducing a copayment to your plan can help reduce your premiums, but it can be risky for those of you on a tighter budget, especially if you have a large number of doctor visits in a year.

3. What you need to know about ‘High Cost Providers’

Hospital costs vary significantly in China, with some hospitals charging very affordable fees, and other more well-known private hospitals in major cities with English speaking doctors generally charging a lot more for care. These more expensive facilities are referred to by insurers as ‘High Cost Provider’s (HCPs).

Some plans will give you the option of excluding or limiting coverage at HCPs, e.g. a 20% copayment on treatments received at HCPs, which would mean your insurer would pay only 80% of the cost. This can be a great way to reduce your premium, but please bear in mind that making a copayment of 20% at HCPs can still be very expensive, especially for an inpatient procedure.

4. Area of coverage

Are you looking for family health insurance that covers you in China only, or one that covers you overseas as well, including your home country? In terms of the area of coverage, we would recommend expats living in mainland China to obtain a plan that covers both China and Hong Kong, at the very least. This is because Hong Kong has some of the best hospitals in the whole of Asia.

On the other hand, you may also want to consider an international health insurance plan. Covering your family both in China and overseas, these plans are globally portable, meaning that if you relocate to another country in the future, or return to your home country, your plan will protect you wherever you go.

Does international health insurance include USA coverage?

Most international health insurance plans will exclude the US as an area of coverage, mostly because of the high cost of healthcare in the US. If you wish to have USA coverage, you may do so by:

  • Choosing a plan that covers elective treatment in the US, if you can afford it. This option allows your family to travel to the US for planned surgery. That being said, this option is very expensive, and can cost 1.5 times or more than the cost of a worldwide plan that excludes the USA.
  • Opt for emergency USA inpatient coverage – this will ensure your inpatient emergency costs are covered, but your outpatient emergency costs won’t be covered.
  • Another option is to purchase a comprehensive annual travel insurance plan that covers you anywhere up to 30 days outside of China. These plans are a cheap option for short term travelling, although they do not offer the tax receipt that most companies will require for reimbursement in China, so this may need to be paid for out of pocket.

5. Do you or your family members have any pre-existing conditions?

Do you or your family members already have, or previously had any illnesses, ailments, or injuries? These are considered pre-existing conditions, and you’ll often see it excluded in health insurance plans. That said, some insurers will cover certain pre-existing conditions. They may cover these conditions by either placing an additional premium on your plan, while others will offer the option of placing a waiting period on that particular condition.

If you are lucky, in some cases these conditions may even be covered at no extra cost. To ensure you get the pre-existing condition coverage you need, it’s a good idea to talk to an experienced broker like Pacific Prime China for more information.

6. Can I get an individual health insurance plan for my child?

If you’re looking to secure separate health insurance coverage for your child instead of obtaining family health insurance, you may do so. However, please bear in that mind that almost all insurers will not offer this option. That said, there are ‘child alone’ options available, with some costing only RMB 9,000 annually.

7. Is the insurer reliable?

When purchasing health insurance, it’s also important to consider the reputation, service, and reliability of the insurer. Generally speaking, the cheaper the insurance plan, the less reliable on claims they are. This is why it’s so important to choose a reputable insurance company, so that you can have an insurance plan that you and your family can count on.

8. How often do you want to pay for your family health insurance?

Most insurers in China require annual payment, but some will allow you to make semi-annual or sometimes even monthly payments. However, the latter options will carry a surcharge. Another thing to be aware of is that Chinese regulations will not accept international credit cards for monthly payments.

9. Will there be annual premium increases?

When it comes to renewing your family health insurance plan for the following year, it’s important to know that paying increased premiums is inevitable. As a general rule of thumb, smaller insurers with less financial stability will have less stable, more erratic increases, whereas large reputable insurers will tend to have more gradual premium increases (based on medical inflation, age increase, etc).

10. Consult an experienced broker

Some people believe that insurance intermediaries charge higher premiums for insurance. The truth is, reputable insurers like Pacific Prime China offer the same rates as the insurers we work with. Not only will you be getting the same rates, but you will also benefit from extra services such as our expertise in finding the best plan for your needs, as well as additional help on your renewals and claims submissions.

For more information on finding the best family health insurance plan, be sure to contact us today for impartial advice, as well as a free quote.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance
An expat’s guide to medical emergencies in China

An expat’s guide to medical emergencies in China

From car accidents to severe food poisoning and heart attacks, medical emergencies can happen to anyone, anytime and anywhere. As an expat, it’s important that you are aware of how medical emergencies are dealt with in China, and how to prepare yourself in case you come across any unforeseen events. To help, we’ve created this informative guide containing key tips on preparing for and dealing with medical emergencies in the middle kingdom.

Know your hospital

It’s always important to know where your nearest hospital is located, and whether they provide accident and emergency services.

Public hospitals

Public hospital treatment in China is very affordable, but the quality of care, service levels and cleanliness standards can vary significantly. Expats who wish to utilize the public system should be aware that you should be able to communicate in Mandarin, as most of the staff will not be able to speak English.

VIP clinics

Big Chinese public hospitals like Zhongshan in Shanghai have VIP clinics (gaogan bingfang). Most VIP clinics will have English speaking doctors, offer more privacy compared to public hospitals, and will recognize many insurance companies. That being said, prices are much higher in VIP wings, e.g. staying in a VIP room will set you back by RMB 800+, whereas staying overnight at a “common” room would cost only RMB 15 to 20.

Please keep in mind that a lot of urgent VIP clinics may only operate during regular working hours, so you may end up in the local emergency room if you require emergency medical attention outside of these hours.

Foreign-run hospitals

Foreign-run hospitals are generally the most expensive option, as they offer a very high quality of medical care, comfortable rooms, and are often equipped with better technology. Medical staff in these hospitals are able to speak English and sometimes can also speak a range of other foreign languages. However, for medical emergencies you should check beforehand whether the hospital has an emergency department, as not all foreign-run hospitals will have one. Also be sure to check whether the ER runs on a 24-hour basis.

While the many perks offered by foreign-run hospitals are indeed attractive, the price tag can easily cost over ten times the price charged for the same procedure at a public hospital. For instance, an emergency surgical procedure can cost as much as RMB 50,000! With this in mind, relieving potential financial burden with a comprehensive health insurance plan is essential.

The ambulance system

The number to call for an ambulance in China is “120”. Ambulances from public hospitals are often not equipped with comprehensive medical equipment, and the personnel as well as the 120 line operator will generally speak little to no English. Response times will vary, e.g. sometimes the ambulance will come in under 15 minutes and sometimes you may need to wait over an hour due to adverse traffic conditions. In many cases, taking a taxi, or asking a loved one or a friend to drive you to the hospital may be a better, faster alternative.

Bring someone with you

If possible, it’s a good idea to find a bilingual friend to accompany you to the hospital, especially if you’re going to a local facility, as they can help talk to the medical staff on your behalf. If you do choose to avail yourself of the ambulance system, they can also help you by communicating with ambulance personnel (e.g. requesting the ambulance to go to a particular hospital). What’s more, having someone there with you can really speed up the whole medical emergency process, especially if you’re in great pain and finding it very difficult to collect your own medication.

Bring cash

Most foreign-owned hospitals are equipped to bill international insurers directly, so many expats prefer to hold an international health insurance plan to make medical billing easy. In many public hospitals however, a direct payment may not be accepted. If you don’t have any cash on you, Triple A rated hospitals tend to have what’s called a “green lane” that treats the patient if the hospital’s director signs off on it – usually if you’re someone “important” or if they believe that you will be able to pay them back later. In lower tier hospitals (usually in smaller cities), they may reject you if you have no money on hand, even for medical emergencies. No green lanes here.

Medical emergencies and your health insurance

Understanding your health insurance policy is a very important aspect of preparing for medical emergencies in China. Know where the nearest emergency facilities are near your home, office, and your child’s school, and be sure to ascertain whether they will accept your insurance plan or not. Working with a broker and insurer who has a Chinese Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC) code (like Pacific Prime China) will also help drastically decrease the chances of your insurance being rejected.

Looking to learn more about medical emergencies and your health insurance in China? Be sure to contact us today, and our experienced experts will be more than happy to offer impartial advice for your needs, as well as a free quote.

Posted by Jess in Expat Health Insurance, Health Insurance