Until recently, healthcare in urban areas was provided for free, but due to the pressures placed on the public health system by an aging population and increased awareness of general health issues, people are being encouraged to subscribe to health insurance policies.
If you are not provided with insurance by your employer, you will find a wide variety of companies offering medical insurance to the expatriate in China. As with all insurance purchases, it is important to compare the policies on offer carefully, paying particular attention to the 'small print' and exclusions of each policy to ensure that you fully understand the level of cover provided. Almost all policies will exclude pre-existing medical conditions from cover, while others may exclude 'high risk' leisure activities, the definition of which can vary from policy to policy. Many policies have a limit on the amount payable per treatment, or in a given calendar year and some even limit the number of days hospital stay that you will be covered for.
If you need to make a claim, make sure that you fully understand your insurance company's requirements. Many insurance companies will require that the doctor/dentist who provided the treatment completes part or all of the claim form; while he or she might find this task a nuisance, you may have to insist if you want your claim to be successful. There are also cultural differences with regard to the level of information that is released to the patient and in some cases, you may find that you have to be persistent in order to get full details of your treatment from your doctor.
Dental insurance policies are also available, often as an add-on to medical insurance policies, but they can be very expensive. Check carefully what the policy covers, particularly with regard to routine work such as examinations, x-rays and dental hygiene services.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Shanghai is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in China. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in China: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.
For more information on expat health insurance in China, visit our partner APRIL International