Health coverage in China

The Chinese healthcare system is perpetually evolving as the government tries to find solutions to provide services for nearly one and a half billion citizens. Their Healthy China 2020 initiative, committed to provide an efficient, affordable, and accessible healthcare system for all by 2020, but its implementation had to be extended to 2030. While improvements have certainly been made, many Chinese citizens complain that they still must pay a large share of their medical bills out of their own pockets. This can be costly, and so taking out individual health insurance can buffer these expenses considerably.

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Health insurance for expats in China

How does the healthcare system work in China?
 

China has almost universal coverage through publicly funded basic medical insurance. Employed residents, be they citizens or foreigners, must enroll in an employment-based program, which is funded primarily through the employers. The self-employed can voluntarily enroll in this Basic Medical Insurance. 

This system works on the basis of:

  • Personal accounts, into which each employee pays social security contributions, which allow them to finance their outpatient care and medication (until the account is exhausted). Expenses below 10% of the employee's annual salary are fully covered.
  • A common hospitalisation fund, which covers 50% to 80% of the expenses incurred (when they fall within a minimum threshold of 10% of the local annual average wage and a maximum cap of 6 times the local annual average wage).

This basic scheme, therefore, very often requires insured residents to pay out of pocket to supplement their medical expenses. Thus, private health insurance helps to cover cost-sharing and coverage gaps.

How to choose health insurance in China: local or international?
 

Residents in China get a considerably low level of reimbursement for healthcare expenses from their basic cover. This is even more so when they use the private sector (which is often more modern and better equipped than public facilities), whose fees are often very high.

Taking out supplementary health insurance is therefore highly recommended. Some Chinese employers provide it to their employees, but beware as the coverage of local insurers' health insurance policies can vary considerably. Some drugs or tests may not be included, and some medical treatments might not be covered. In addition, many policies have high deductibles, coverage limits and waiting periods.

Given the overall scenario, you might want to consider taking out international health insurance. They are flexible and can be tailored to your particular needs, offering a higher level of coverage and possibly extending to several countries.

What is the cost of healthcare in China?

Liste exemple remboursements

OUTPATIENT SERVICE

For an outpatient consultation: CNY 300 to 1200 in a private hospital ($8 to 46)

APRIL International up to 160 €*

Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**

CONSULTATION SPECIALISTE

A visit to a specialist will cost you CNY 600 to 2,100 in a private hospital ($93 to 325)

APRIL International up to 290 €*

Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**

DENTIST

Count CNY 260 to 460 for a visit to the dentist in a private hospital ($40 to 71)

APRIL International up to 65 €*

Out-of-pocket expenses 0€**

Disclaimer

Examples of average costs of care in the private health sector - APRIL International data 01/2022

 

* Example of reimbursement with MyHealth International - Comfort

** Example of the amount to be paid by the insured after reimbursement

Care in China

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Care in China
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Choosing hospitals in China
 

Private practice is extremely underdeveloped in the Chinese health system; primary care is almost always provided in hospitals. Thus, they’re often overburdened, especially those in the public sector with the most moderate fees. 
 
These public hospitals also often suffer from a lack of resources, equipment, and comfortable spaces. They sometimes offer so-called "VIP" services (or Western-style services), which are a little closer to international quality standards, but these are not covered by Social Security.
 
Contrary to many of the public hospitals which are large, overcrowded, overworked, and underfunded, private hospitals tend to be small but boast top specialist doctors who speak English, possess high-quality equipment, and offer a quality service. Embassies and international insurers often provide reference lists to help you choose private facilities.
 
To avoid going to the hospital for primary healthcare needs, more and more Chinese and expatriates are also resorting to medical telemedicine services (sometimes offered free of charge by comprehensive insurance policies).

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A broad care network in Asia

APRIL International has an extensive network of hospitals, clinics, and healthcare providers where you can benefit from direct billing services and high quality care in China and across the world.

To find your nearest health professional or partner establishment in just a few clicks, go to your Easy Claim application.

Services group
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TAILOR-MADE COVERAGE
Description
Reimbursement of health expenses from the first euro/dollar, including in private hospitals
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TRAVEL WITH PEACE OF MIND
Description
Coverage in China, or in other countries when you travel
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OPTICAL & DENTAL CARE
Description
Reimbursement of optical and dental care (option)
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UNLIMITED TELEMEDICINE SERVICE
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A free medical telemedicine service available 24/7 anywhere in the world
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MEDICAL TRANSPORT
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Repatriation assistance is included in your cover
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DIRECT BILLING
Description
In the event of hospitalisation, you pay nothing out of pocket

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