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Addressing medical care concerns of expats in rural China

If you’re reading this article when it is first published, Happy New Year! We’re off and running in 2019, and we hope that you, like us, have a plan in place for the coming year. For many, a new year coming in marks a time for change. For some of us, these steps can be rather run of the mill, such as adopting a new diet or exercise plan, or trying to break away from a bad habit. However, other people can use this opportunity to mark a major milestone in their lives, such as finding a new job, or even moving to a whole new country!

For the latter group that ends up taking up work in a rural part of China, Pacific Prime China has a great article to help you address your medical needs in 2019. Read on to find out more about how medical care works in the rural parts of China, vis-à-vis more urban portions, and what steps expats in rural China should take to best address the quality and costs of their medical care.

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Medical care in rural China

While global media tends to regard China as a place of ever-increasing affluence, where a burgeoning middle class now has access to modern conveniences that are seen throughout the rest of the developed world, this has not always been the case for everyone; especially those living in the more out-of-the-way provinces and cities of the Middle Kingdom’s countryside.

In these areas, a lower average level of pay has resulted in some people avoiding care in their local hospitals in order to avoid any type of medical debt. What’s more, the quality of care received in rural Chinese hospitals is oftentimes much poorer than that found in their urban counterparts, as rural hospitals receive less funding, and may not have access to the latest medical technologies or highly educated doctors that can be found in hospitals in cities like Shanghai or Beijing.

In some parts of rural China, the nearest hospital with the proper facilities for treating certain ailments may be a considerable distance away, and limitations on the movement of some people between provinces have even hindered timely care in some cases. Fortunately, new technologies, coupled with governmental innovation, have been narrowing the gap found between rural and urban healthcare in China in recent years.

Government reforms

The Chinese government in the past had injected hundreds of billions of US dollars into upgrades to the country’s healthcare system. These plans included the creation of clinics throughout rural China, and saw that every one of the country’s 700,000+ villages now have their own medical clinic. Furthermore, rural citizens saw expanded medical insurance offerings, and the capping of prices on hundreds of different prescription medications.

With these programs, China has hoped to adequately address the medical needs of all of its 1.3 billion person population. This is great news, as the majority of China’s people still live outside of the country’s major cities, and is a marked upgrade over the “barefoot doctors” programs of the past that saw doctors traveling to villages in order to provide cheap medical care. While this method was able to serve some populations, it was a far shout from providing the full medical experience offered by major hospitals.

Nevertheless, people still have needed to travel to cities to receive specialized care in many cases. Fortunately, in order to combat this issue, new technology, such as telemedicine, has been able to save people hours, or even days, of travel time. Now, thanks to public and private advancement alike, people can have video chats with doctors from vast distances apart in order to receive their diagnoses and prescriptions.

Health insurance for expats in rural China

While public hospitals found in the rural parts of China can provide many types of medical care, they are frequently not on par with the expectations of foreign people moving to the country. This is partly for obvious reasons: care in rural hospitals is likely to only be provided in Chinese – so those who are not fluent in the language may have a hard time feeling comfortable about their care – and the care found here will likely not be on a level that an expat might expect to find in their home country. What’s more, the service found in any of the country’s public hospitals can be slow, and even place patients on a long waiting list to receive care.

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For these reasons, many expats opt for treatment in private and international hospitals wherever possible, even though it will likely be a great deal more costly than care received in public hospitals. Unfortunately for expatriates in rural parts of China, there may be no private or international hospitals to speak of within a reasonable travel distance. This is where having a high quality health insurance policy comes in.

Sure, securing a quality private medical insurance plan will address the costs of private hospitals, and give policyholders peace of mind knowing that they don’t have to worry about medical debt. However, a potentially highly beneficial feature to also mention is the Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation that can be found on some expat insurance plans. With this feature, if a person has a medical issue that their local hospitals cannot address, they will be transported to the nearest facility that can treat it properly. This can be a real lifesaver when it comes to healthcare for expats in rural China.

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Whether you’re looking to move to China in 2019, or you’ve already been here for years, the last thing you are going to want to worry about in the event of a medical emergency is how you are going to pay for your care, or even if you’ll be able to be treated at all. Whether you end up in a big city, or in China’s countryside, having a private health insurance plan with coverage for emergency evacuation and telemedicine in place is simply a good idea.

To find out what your best available options are for health insurance with emergency evacuation and telemedicine coverage in China, contact the helpful and knowledgeable insurance advisers at Pacific Prime China today. Our agents are ready to answer all of your China healthcare and insurance questions, as well as to provide you with a free comparison of local plans and a free quote.