How to choose insurance in China: understanding your health insurance options
As your grandparents may often lament, things were often much simpler in their day. There was only one store to buy your groceries from, one telephone company that looked after your phone line, and health insurance was a basic form of “disability insurance” that covered mainly occupational accidents and fatalities. Modern insurance has developed, like many other industries, to offering a wide range of different products.
These days you can get coverage for sickness, hospitalization, and other benefits that can be tailored to meet your changing life needs – maternity, vision, and dental to name a few. When you need to choose an insurance plan, which health insurance option in today’s varied market is right for you? This article by Pacific Prime China highlights the most important things you should know before you buy.
What is health insurance?
Health insurance the world over refers to a type of insurance coverage that is bought by people to help them cover the costs of medical or surgical treatment. This can be anything from general practitioner and family doctor visits, to surgical procedures or specialist health appointments. Some plans may even provide cover for medical prescriptions and drugs, or offer support for illnesses of a mental health nature.
How your health insurance options will differ is based on a number of things; the type of health coverage on offer, the services and billing options to support claims, the regions of coverage, and many others. The diversity of health products available today can be seen as part of the market’s adapting to the changing medical needs of its clients in all stages of their lives.
Like buying a car or a house, your own personal needs and desires can count for a lot when it comes to choosing insurance. Working out which of the many health insurance options available is right for you can seem like a difficult and daunting task, but Pacific Prime China has a few things you can think about to help set you on the right track.
Getting measured for your best China health insurance fit
Finding the best plan for your medical needs doesn’t have to be hard. At Pacific Prime China, we’re committed to simplifying insurance, which means making sure that our clients are well-prepared to weigh up their health insurance options. Our global website has a really useful infographic available that can give you a head start on what you need to think about before selecting a plan.
Click the image for your free download of the “Get Measured” infographic
This includes answering a number of questions such as: How old are you? Do you currently have health insurance? How often do you visit the doctor? Do you have any family you need covered? This infographic aligns with the sorts of questions our expert consultants would ask you when sourcing a health insurance solution that best fits your needs. Answering them, you can be sure that you’ll be well prepared to weigh up your options for health insurance in China.
Things to remember about health insurance options in China
In addition to the infographic, here are some really useful things to remember when it comes to health insurance in China:
1. Insurance can be more expensive than you expect
The cost of health insurance continues to rise across the globe, and China’s insurance market is no different. One thing that many expats experience when buying an onshore plan is “sticker shock” – the surprise of health insurance premiums being sometimes higher than the country they’ve arrived from. This is due to the internal challenges posed by the local market, as well as the stereotype that most things are cheaper in Asia.
2. Currency decisions
When buying a plan in China, almost all insurers will require that you pay in RMB, and you will be reimbursed in RMB. Very few insurers will allow payments to be made in USD, and it can be more difficult for them, and require more monetary regulations to be met in order for reimbursement in the same currency to be made.
3. Documentation requirements can be more complex
Due to government regulations aimed at addressing fraud and money laundering, many onshore insurers have extremely strict and tight regulations that must be met in the insurance industry. Most will require original documentation, not just copies, for many insurance claims, and can even require official documentation from your employer should you have company-provided care.
Companies themselves may have tax implications related to claims under corporate health insurance plans, and you’ll need to talk to your Human Resources or Compensation & Benefits department to learn more about how it may impact you.
4. Buying onshore vs offshore
Buying onshore means purchasing one of the health insurance options available from within China. It’s completely possible to purchase an offshore plan from, say, Hong Kong or Southeast Asia, some of which can provide similar coverage for a cheaper premium price. The issue, however, is that many of these may not come with direct billing options, and the service you receive from these offshore plans may not be as easily connected with local China-based medical providers.
There may also come a time where the local government may require all health insurance policies for China to be onshore products. This is not the case yet, however we have seen in places, like Dubai, mandatory insurance laws introduced that have impacted a large number of expats, many with existing health plans that were later deemed non-compliant by new laws. Having an onshore plan can help reduce any impact of potential regulatory changes in future.
Where can I get assistance with buying insurance in China?
Pacific Prime China is the partner you need for finding both onshore and offshore health insurance options in China. Our dedicated team of professional consultants operate out of both Beijing and Shanghai, and have experience in ensuring that the medical coverage you buy matches the medical needs you have now, and in the future. As your needs change, so can your insurance – and our capable advisors will be there whenever you find yourself looking to revisit your plan.
If you need a little assistance (or a lot) in finding and choosing from the best health insurance options in China, get help from the best. Contact our team at Pacific Prime China today, or visit our website for a free quote.