China’s healthcare system is not the best for expats. Although those who live in cities have easy access to both private and public hospitals, rural areas of China are more restricted in terms of medical services. Hospitals are more popular than local clinics for China expat health insurance services.
China’s public healthcare system
Expats are unlikely to use China’s public medical facilities. Long wait times and long lines to see a doctor can make it difficult for expats to use public hospitals. The quality of medical expertise is comparable to Western standards, despite the language barrier and slow service.
International wings are a way to bridge the gap between private and public healthcare in some public hospitals, especially those located in large Chinese cities. These areas, also known as VIP Wards, are much more expensive than regular public hospitals but significantly less than private hospitals. These wings are for wealthy patients and the medical staff can often speak English.
China’s public health insurance is not very comprehensive and mediocre. Even basic policies that do not cover chronic and serious conditions can be quite expensive. Private health insurance is the best choice for expats.
Expats need to be certain that their insurance covers all hospitals. Expats need to do their research before they commit to any type of health insurance policy. Not all hospitals recognize all insurers.
Private healthcare in China
Many expats who live in China choose to use private hospitals. These are usually only available in large metropolitan areas. Although private healthcare is more costly than public services, it tends to be comparable to what expats in North America and Europe. In some cases, treatment can be just as good, or even better, than what expats would expect. Many of the medical staff can speak English and many have received training in Europe or North America.
China has pharmacies and medicine shops
In major cities, there is often at least one 24-hour pharmacy. Metropolitan areas have larger, more departmental-style pharmacies. Sometimes, expats may find labels in the local language. Or pharmacists who don’t speak English. It is a good idea for expats to ask for help from a friend who can translate. However, if this is not possible, they should note the name of the medication.
Certain medicines may be subject to strict restrictions and requirements when brought into China. Before attempting to import any medication into China, expats should research this.
China presents health hazards
Moving to China can bring about some health issues. The most serious is the air pollution in China’s larger cities. It is recommended that expats with respiratory problems invest in a home purifier.
Water pollution is another problem. It is recommended that expats not drink the tap water from China. They should also rinse their fruits and vegetables with boiling water. Water-borne diseases can be avoided by only using filtered water.
Before traveling to China, expats should make sure they have all of their routine vaccines up-to-date. You should also be aware of specific vaccines, including those for Hepatitis A, B and Yellow fever, as well as those for Hepatitis A, B and R. It is also recommended to have current Covid vaccines.
China Emergency Services
Most medical emergencies can be dealt with quickly and efficiently depending on the location expats choose to reside in China. While some rural areas may not have the best emergency services, urban areas generally have good service.
Private ‘black’ ambulances were created because there was a shortage of ambulances. These vehicles are often unlicensed and not authorized, so expats should avoid them.
Although they are highly trained professionals, emergency response personnel may not be able to speak English. For medical emergencies, expats should learn the basics of the local language.
The local emergency number for medical emergencies is 120. In case of emergency, expats should have contact information for their nearest Embassy.