Even though many expats work in Shanghai, the Chinese government will NOT provide them with any health insurance coverage – you should have your own insurance coverage provided by your company. Virtually all multinational corporations include Western health insurance as part of their expat compensation package – this will include evacuation to Hong Kong or your home country in emergencies. It is advisable for you to understand the details of your health coverage before your arrive in Shanghai – check with your HR Department as soon as possible.
Expats who live in Shanghai should have health insurance that allows them and their family to receive medical treatment at Western facilities, either in Shanghai, in Hong Kong, or in their home country. If you do not have any policy such as this, then you will need to review your options for medical emergencies. At the bottom of this section, we provide the names and contact information for reputable health insurance companies in Shanghai. All will have English-speaking agents who can answer your questions.
Each company has its own policy regarding which hospital you must use, so check it before you commit to a health insurance policy. Some of them oblige you going to a pre-determined hospital, but others allow you to choose. Some companies ask you to call them before you go to a hospital to authorize the expense and in others, this is not necessary.
Of course, you have the option of staying in China without a health insurance and paying each time that you have to visit a doctor. We don’t recommend this: even if your family only has minimal health problems, the high cost of using Western hospitals makes the insurance worthwhile.
As you consider which policy is right for you and your family, remember that these health insurance companies often offer cheaper packages inside China than purchasing from your country of origin. You should specify your needs in the following areas of health care:
- Dental: Do you want more coverage than for simple checkups? What about oral surgeries or braces?
- Repatriation: Will the policy allow you to return to your home country for treatment?
- Prescription Drugs and Medicines: Do you have to buy local Chinese brands or can you purchase drugs from your home country?
- Local Emergency Care: Does your policy allow you access to VIP wards in Chinese hospitals or to the Western medical facilities in Shanghai?
You will pay more for health insurance coverage in Shanghai — about 10 times more than the average Shanghai Chinese patient will pay. A simple consultation with a doctor will cost $80 to $150 or more. Chinese doctors in Shanghai tend to prescribe many more medicines and tests using their hospital’s newest and most expensive diagnostic equipment (for example, a PET scan) than would be prescribed by a Western doctor. The bottom line is that the hospitals make more money by doing this – when a Westerner walks in the door, they seize the opportunity to use their modern equipment and to make more money.
Expat residents need to be privately insured. Before you make your final choice, contact several companies and compare their policies. Some key insurers in Shanghai are:
- Chartis Insurance (AIG)
5F Chamtime International Financial Center
1589 Century Avenue, Pu Dong District
Tel: 21 38578000
Unit 3902, JinMao Tower
88 Century Boulevard
Tel: 86-21 5049 4950; Fax: 86-21 5049 4847
- American Insurance Association Company Ltd.
AIA Bldg., 17 Zhongshan Dong Lu
Tel: 6321 6698 Fax: 6329 6088
- China Pacific Insurance Co., Ltd.
Shanghai Branch Company
400 Wusong Lu
Tel: 6677 9900 Fax: 6608 5555
- China Ping An Insurance Company
3/F, Jin Qian Bldg.,
2077 Yan’an Xi Lu
Tel: 6219 2900 Fax: 6233 9835
- Manulife Sinochem Insurance Co., Ltd.
21/F. JinMao Tower, 88 Shiji Dadao
Tel: 5049 2288 Fax: 5049 1110
- Pacific-Aetna Life Insurance Company Limited
30/F, New International Mansion,
360 Pudong Nan Lu
Tel: 6886 3183 Fax: 6886 3180
- The People’s Insurance Company of China,
700 Zhongshan Nan Lu
Tel: 6377 3000 Fax: 6376 4678
This website is helpful for understanding the different options available with medical insurance: http://www.international-medical-insurance.com/