Previous appointments are not necessary, you have just to present yourself to the admission desk. Referrals are not necessary, but if you do get one from a Western clinic, the visit will be smoother as the local hospital will understand exactly what’s to be done. No payment is required until after your visit is complete, and prices are very low compared to the West.
Insurance companies in Shanghai require that payment is made first, and then claims and receipts are sent to the insurance company. Only top hospitals like Ruijin and Huadong are recognized by local insurance companies, while some hospitals only accept a limited number of insurance companies. Check with your insurance company and your local health care provider.
In case that you need to schedule a specific procedure, your doctor will refer you to a specialist and you will have make an appointment with him. You need to take with you the standard paperwork, including your passport and any medical history that your doctor asks you to bring.
In the case of an emergency, you can dial the general emergency number, 110 or dial for an ambulance on 120 or send an SMS to 12110. This is provided, however, that you are able to communicate your distress in Chinese. For an English language emergency help, dial United Family Hospital’s 24 Hour Emergency Hotline: 5133 1999.
Foreigners may go to designated Foreigner’s Clinics at local hospitals, but it is a good idea to bring along a Chinese-speaker if you don’t speak Chinese. Even if your doctor speaks English, the admissions nurse may not. However, in an emergency, ANY Chinese hospital will treat foreigners.
It is a good idea to carry a credit card with a high limit just for emergencies. Besides cash or credit card, the only document an expat needs for medical treatment is his passport.
Note: Shanghai hospitals are not up to the standards of Western hospitals – they are often dingy, with older equipment. As is the case everywhere, however, most physicians are competent, some are excellent, and many Shanghai expatriates swear by their Chinese doctors.