China Healthcare

China’s healthcare system is not the best for expats. Although those who live in cities have easy access to both public and private hospitals in most cases, rural areas of China are often far more limited. Hospitals are more popular than local clinics for healthcare services.

Healthcare for the public

Western expats are unlikely to use health insurance for foreigners in China public medical facilities. The wait times can be lengthy and people can stand in line for days just to get treated. Despite the language barrier and slow service, the quality medical expertise is comparable to Western standards.

International clinics are available in some public hospitals, especially those located in large Chinese cities. They can bridge the gap between private and public healthcare. These wards are also known as VIP wards. Although the medical costs can be higher than those in private hospitals, they are still significantly less expensive than private ones. 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 should make sure they check where their insurance covers them. It is important to research the options before you commit to any health insurance policy. Not all hospitals recognize all insurers.

Private healthcare

Private hospitals are preferred by most expats who live in China. These are usually only available in major cities. Although private healthcare services can be more costly than public ones, they are generally closer to standard in Europe and North America. These hospitals offer treatments comparable to those in Western countries, so expats can be sure they will get the best care. Many of the medical staff can speak English, and many have received training in North America or Europe.

Pharmacies and medicines

In major cities, there is often at least one 24-hour pharmacy. Metropolitan areas have larger, more traditional pharmacies. Sometimes, expats may find labels in their native language. It’s best to ask a friend in your local area for help if the pharmacist doesn’t speak English.