All in One Guide about Health Insurance in China
Health insurance is a sensitive topic for most of us as it is directly related to the peace of mind of the most important pillar in life – our health. Most foreigners in China are sold more comprehensive plans than they need, are not given enough time to consider alternatives on renewal through their financial agent or a broker, and in general lack knowledge on how private insurance works in the country.
In China, health insurance is mandatory for all citizens and is provided by the government. The country’s social health insurance system is divided into two main categories: the urban employee basic medical insurance (UEBMI) and the new rural cooperative medical scheme (NRCMS).
UEBMI is mandatory for all urban residents who are employed by a company or organization, and covers both inpatient and outpatient medical expenses. The employer and employee both contribute to the insurance premium, and the government also provides subsidies for low-income individuals. UEBMI also covers pre-existing medical conditions.
NRCMS is mandatory for all rural residents, and covers both inpatient and outpatient medical expenses as well. The premium is paid by the government, the individual, and sometimes their employer.
Foreigners living and working in China can also participate in the UEBMI scheme and purchase private health insurance.
Foreigners who are not working in China can also purchase private health insurance. It can be beneficial for them as it can cover their medical expenses while they are in China, but also when they travel outside of China.
When it comes to accessing healthcare in China, people generally go to public hospitals, which are usually overcrowded and have long wait times. However, the quality of healthcare in China has been improving in recent years, and many private hospitals and clinics have also been established, offering a higher standard of care.
When visiting a hospital, it is important to have your insurance card, identification and any relevant medical records with you. Also, it is a good idea to have a Chinese speaker with you or to have a translation app, as many healthcare providers may not speak English.
It is important to note that health insurance in China is constantly evolving and it’s best to check with the relevant authorities for the most up-to-date information.
Components of a Health Insurance Policy
Inpatient only plans cover major medical bills, emergencies and any treatment that requires you to be in the hospital for more than 24 hours. Those are including range of other expensive treatments, such as cancer, surgeries, most emergency cases, medical repatriation and medical evacuation.
Inpatient with Outpatient plans cover outpatient benefits in addition to the plans above. Outpatient is a category for treatment that takes less than 24 hours to complete. These benefits include routine doctor’s visits, prescription medications, physiotherapy, Chinese medicine and diagnostic tests.
Do you know that most insurance providers these days can let you have discounted premium even without making any changes to your cover level? If your agent/broker hasn’t told you about it, contact online or talk to Eric law international directly so we can help you.
There are optional benefits that can be added to your plan, such as dental, wellness, optical and maternity. Wellness benefits are used for annual checkups, and for some companies cover vaccinations. So what level of cover is most popular among foreigners in China?
What are other considerations that impact the premium of a health insurance policy?
Area of cover
These days most insurance plans can be tailored to cover China only. In most cases you will still be covered outside of the country but only for emergencies.
Do you need access to expensive medical facilities?
Those lists are changing all the time, historically the most expensive facility – United Family, is not considered as a high cost for several companies. Same applies to
Global Health in Shanghai,
OASIS and Raffles in Beijing.
With some companies, Parkway outside of Tier 1 cities (Chengdu and Suzhou for example) is covered as usual, no need to pay extra to get access to it as it used to be.
Do you live outside of Tier 1 cities?
There are several plans that can give a substantial discount for members living outside of Beijing, Guangzhou or Shanghai. Most people are simply not aware of it and can reduce the price of a plan by 10%.
Deductibles and copayments
(also known as excess) is a set amount that you first pay before your insurance covers any medical bills. Adding a deductible is a simple way to reduce your premium by 10%-25%, although not every company allows for it. Speak with a consultant to know if your plan allows for a deductible.
Based on research, 92% of foreigners in China are currently insured or have been insured with one of the companies below. As a licensed insurance broker we have access to every company listed below, and many others too. It’s important to let consultants know more details about your unique situation so they can offer the most suitable options.
It’s important to understand that every insurance company has their own standards for underwriting, and the terms offered will vary with each company. With over a decade of experience, Eric law international have seen every kind of health condition and know which companies will offer the most flexible underwriting.
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