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
Vaccinations in China: Do vaccines work, and will your health insurance cover it?

Vaccinations in China: Do vaccines work, and will your health insurance cover it?

With all the #VaccinesWork hashtags floating around social media lately, most of you probably know that the last week of April (24 – 30 April) was World Immunization Week. As an annual awareness initiative dedicated to promoting the power of vaccines, World Immunization Week addressed the issue that although vaccines have helped prevent at least 10 million deaths between 2010 and 2015, they’re still not fully utilized and there’s still progress to be made.

What’s more, the week also focused on validating information on vaccine safety, as many people today are still sceptical about vaccinations. This week’s article uncovers whether vaccines truly work, and looks at everything you need to know about vaccinations in regards to your expat health insurance policy.

Do vaccines really work?

In recognition of the end of World Immunization Week 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) tweeted the following message about vaccines:

WHO VaccinesWork capture

Source: WHO’s Twitter page (2017)

But, how do vaccines save lives and prevent diseases? Despite the effectiveness of vaccines, many parents and caregivers remain concerned about whether vaccines are truly safe for their children.

Why are people so sceptical about vaccines?

There are many reasons behind why people are sceptical about vaccines. Firstly, the internet is filled with websites publishing misleading information regarding vaccine safety. Secondly, people are often afraid of what they don’t fully understand. Many people believe that the ingredients in vaccines are harmful, simply because they sound scary. For example, many people believe that a preservative called thimerosal present in vaccines is harmful because it has mercury in it.

Thimerosal is an antifungal agent used to preserve multi-dose vials of vaccine. While thimerosal does have mercury in it, it’s actually an ethyl mercury, which is a harmless type of mercury that gets flushed out of the body. On the other hand, methyl mercury is the bad type; commonly found in tuna and other fish species high up on the food chain (e.g. king mackerel, swordfish).

For further vaccine facts, you can also check out The Nib’s informative comic on how vaccines work:

The Nib vaccines comic capture

Source: The Nib (2014)

How vaccines work

The vital importance of vaccines can’t be stressed enough, because they prevent dangerous and deadly infectious diseases (e.g. polio). The use of vaccines has increased significantly since 2000. For example, by the end of 2015, 85% of the world’s children were injected with the measles vaccine – up from 73% in 2000. What’s more, since 1988 cases of polio have decreased by over 99%!

Vaccines work by injecting an imitation infection to provoke an immune response. This type of imitation infection does not cause illness, and instead causes the immune system to produce defensive white blood cells (T-lymphocytes) and antibodies.

These germ fighting tools help the body get over this imitation infection, and afterwards the immune system learns how to protect the body against that particular disease. Sometimes, the body may experience mild adverse symptoms (e.g. fever), as the body is building immunity against the infection.

Ever heard of the saying: “prevention is better than cure”? Despite ongoing advances in healthcare, diseases that vaccinations prevent can still be very deadly if you’re not vaccinated against them. As such, vaccinations are considered the best way to protect yourself from contracting a whole host of diseases.

Vaccinations in China

Expat parents in China are often concerned about what kind of vaccinations their children will need, as vaccination schedules vary between different countries. As vaccination schedules are designed around the prevalence of certain diseases in the country, you may find that China and other countries in Asia may provide vaccines that other countries outside of Asia may not. Expat parents should therefore make a balanced decision and consult with their doctor to find the best vaccination solution for their child.

Internationally standard vaccines, which are the vaccines that in most countries people should or are recommended to get starting from childhood, including the following:

  • DTaP: This vaccine provides protection against diphtheria (a bacterial infection affecting the nose and throat), tetanus (an infection that causes muscle spasms), and pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Polio: An infectious diseases that can cause muscle weakness and even muscle paralysis.
  • MMR: Provides protection against mumps (a contagious diseases that can lead to brain damage and even death), measles (a viral infection of the respiratory system) and rubella (a contagious disease that is very dangerous for pregnant women and their unborn child).
  • Hib: Provides protection against Haemophilus influenzae type b, a bacterium that can lead to a whole host of serious illnesses (e.g. meningitis), particularly in children.
  • Pneumococcal diseases: People with pneumococcal disease can develop pneumonia, blood infection, meningitis, and ear infections.

On top of the above vaccinations, the following vaccinations are especially recommended for people in China:

  • Japanese encephalitis: Protects against a mosquito-borne virus that can cause brain infection. It’s more of an issue in southern China, but Beijing has had cases as well.
  • Typhoid: A fever developed from consuming Salmonella-contaminated food.
  • Rabies: Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and various other mammals. This vaccine is especially recommended for people often involved in outdoor activities, and children (as they tend to play with animals).
  • Yellow fever: While there’s no yellow fever risk in China, the country requires proof of the vaccination if you’re arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever.
  • Hepatitis B: This virus is an infectious inflammatory illness that affects the liver, and comes with a risk of chronic infection.
  • BCG: A vaccine against tuberculosis, an infectious diseases that in most cases affects the lungs.

Adults and teens need vaccinations too

A common misconception is that preventative vaccinations are for children only. What many people do not know is that adult boosters are also available. For example, most adults need a tetanus booster every ten years. There’s also what’s commonly known as the flu jab, an annual influenza vaccination that protects people against this highly contagious respiratory tract illness. This is not only recommended for younger children, but also advised for people who are particularly susceptible to developing more serious illnesses like pneumonia.

The 2016 illegal vaccine scandal

In May 2016, news headlines in China and worldwide were dominated by China’s illegal vaccine scandal, which saw 135 people in 22 provinces arrested for running vaccine businesses without a license. Ten on-duty health officials were also found guilty of knowingly buying illegal vaccines and using them on people at local public health centres.

This was not the first time that a vaccine scandal has occurred. In March 2016, 2 million doses of vaccines were found to be improperly stored. In light of these scandals, expats often opt for treatment at private hospitals for further peace of mind, a higher standard of care, and imported vaccines. Private care does, however, come with a hefty price tag, which is why securing private health insurance is key.

Vaccinations and your health insurance

Vaccinations can be very expensive at private hospitals, so it’s a good idea to check whether your health insurance includes cover for vaccinations. Typically supplied under the outpatient benefit of a number of China health insurance plans, the vaccination benefit will ensure that you and/or your child are protected against the high cost of receiving vaccinations.

Things to look out for

It’s important that you study your policy and look out for all plan limitations. For example, many insurers may cap the coverage amount on that benefit, meaning the limit may not be high enough to reimburse you for all your vaccination expenses. You may also find that the vaccination benefit in your plan is limited only to the types of vaccines it covers.

Cover for vaccinations may also be subject to a waiting period, meaning you’ll need to wait a specific amount of time from when you first secured your plan before you can receive coverage for that benefit. Some plans are also more flexible than others, meaning that you’ll be able to tailor your plan so that they provide the vaccination coverage for your children, rather than the adults in your family.

Vaccinations can be very expensive, which is why it often helps to clarify with your broker or insurer as to whether or not your health insurance covers the vaccination benefit. Contact our team of insurance experts to learn more today!

Posted by Jess in Health Insurance