China Healthcare & Insurance Information
China's healthcare network is largely below western standards. Cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou do have certain hospitals and medical facilities up to western standards, although treatment at those hospitals is almost as expensive as treatment in the USA. In many Chinese cities, the large public hospitals provide adequate care, but certainly not to the level expatriates would expect.
With every major corporation entering the Chinese market along with massive amounts of foreign capital, China's major cities are becoming economic centers of the global economy. The influx of foreign investment and market entry by foreign companies has lead to a rapid increase in the number of expatriates living in China. In particular, Shanghai and Beijing have witnessed a marked increase in the expatriate populations over the past 15 years.
As the expatriate population in China continues to grow, international health insurance companies are seeking to provide this expatriate population with services appropriate to their life in China. Expatriates, regardless of where they choose to live, expect western levels of coverage and service to be covered by their private medical insurance.
With China's ascension into the World Trade Organization, domestic insurance companies lost their protected position within the domestic insurance industry in 2004. There are now over 130 foreign-invested insurance companies in China with almost 200 representative offices across the country. These companies are allowed to provide health, group, and pension insurance to Chinese nationals. The Chinese government planned to institute a fundamental health insurance system by 2010.
China's insurance industry is still dominated by domestic insurance companies. Foreign insurers are still very new to the Chinese market and have yet to make significant inroads into the domestic insurance industry. The Chinese market is unlike any found in the West. Cultural differences pose unique challenges to most foreign corporations entering the Chinese market, especially those companies with no prior experience of working in or with China.
Insurance companies must not only contend with the particularities of operating in the Chinese market, but must also understand the unique needs of expatriates living in China. Expatriates need the peace of mind that comes with the assurance of comprehensive health insurance coverage for life overseas. In the coming years, insurance companies will have to create new insurance products and services to meet the unique needs of expatriates in China.
Before traveling to China, visitors should ensure they have the appropriate vaccinations. For those staying in China for more than 6 months, the government requires a Physical Examination which is a mandatory test to certify you are not bringing any contagious diseases into the country. This examination is usually covered by the employer or by the expatriate themselves.
As China is a developing country, health concerns persist in many areas. Although the World Health Organization (WHO) does not consider Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to be a significant health threat at the moment, the outbreak of 2004 caused significant disruptions within the region. Outbreaks of Avian Influenza, or Bird Flu, have been contained in the past but could present a threat in the future. In 2007, there was an outbreak of measles and rubella in several areas, and 2006 saw an outbreak of Dengue fever.
As one of Asia's top insurance intermediaries we can help assist you in finding the best possible insurance for your time in China . Before you depart on your trip to China, you should speak with an International Health Insurance advisor about your international medical insurance needs.