Health Insurance and China’s Healthcare System Explained


The cost and quality of healthcare in China can vary greatly depending on where you live. Private health insurance in China is the preferred option for most expats. There are many options. Continue reading to learn more about Chinese expat healthcare, including the famous, spa-like maternity hospital.

Living abroad can make it difficult to understand a foreign healthcare system, especially if there are language barriers or cultural differences.

China has a national healthcare system that covers over 90% of its population. However, coverage is subject to regional interpretations of national laws. Expats have the option of choosing between private insurance, VIP wards and the public system.

This overview of China’s healthcare system covers key topics for expats. It includes insurance options, finding a doctor and even giving birth in China, which can be an extraordinary experience for those who have the right insurance.

In the first few weeks of your move, be aware that many local hospitals and VIP wards don’t accept international health insurance. You’ll need cash to pay for any treatment and then you can claim reimbursements from your insurance company.

What is the Chinese Healthcare System?

China has free healthcare that is covered by the social insurance program. The basic healthcare system covers the majority of the population, as well as expats. It will vary depending on where you live. Some areas do not require foreign residents to pay the required taxes in order to be eligible for public healthcare.

What does China’s Health Insurance look like?

There are three types of medical insurance: basic coverage for employees of urban enterprises, basic coverage for other urban residents and rural cooperative health insurance for the farm population.

China’s basic medical insurance for urban employees is mandatory. Both the employer and the employee pay the healthcare costs. The employer pays 6% and the employee 2% respectively. Although they may have different contributions, the average contribution is 6%. This insurance is also available to the self-employed, but they must contribute all.

Non-enterprise residents have their own health insurance and the state pays for it. The state subsidizes insurance for the unemployed and those who receive social assistance.

Are Healthcare Services Free in China?

You will need to pay upfront for healthcare services in China regardless of where you live or how much coverage you have. You may get reimbursement for some or all of the costs depending on which insurance plan you have.

It is important to note that the public healthcare system has some gaps. It doesn’t typically cover emergency transport costs, nor does it grant you access to private healthcare facilities. Your non-working relatives may not be covered even if they have public health insurance.

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