Relation To Health Insurance | Questions About Expats And Foreigners

In this in-depth article we have chosen most popular questions expats and foreigners ask in relation to health insurance.

  1. I am planning to relocate from China to another Asian country, what can I do with my insurance plan?

That really depends on what insurance plan you have. Most international insurance providers can easily switch you to their out of China policy with continuation of cover. That means whatever medical conditions you might have had in China are still going to be covered with your plan once you move somewhere else. Such things can either be arranged on your renewal date or sometimes even during the policy year. If you are however insured with a local provider or your plan cant be transferred to an overseas equivalent, then you only have two options. Either request your plan to be cancelled (when possible) or continue using it abroad if your plan covers medical treatments outside of China.

  • I have insurance plan through my employer but my children are not covered by it. Is there anything I can get for them?

Vast majority of insurance plans in China need at least one parent be insured together with minors and act as a policy holder. Despite hundreds of options available for adults, there is only very handful of good solutions for kids should they be insured without adults. Children under the age of 5 are typically 25% more expensive to be insured than those over the age of 5, simply because statistically those tend to visit doctors more often as well as will require more vaccinations.

  • Is there any good life insurance options in China?

There is a good number of insurance providers offering life insurance policies. Those however are not being popular among expat community in the country due to several major limitations. Biggest one being, upon claiming under the plan (death of the primary insured) it is impossible for insurance company in China to release payment to an account outside of Mainland China. Everything should be handled within the country. Additionally, all those plans have literature in Chinese for terms and conditions, giving another big reason why many expats tend to get such plans from back home or in many cases Hong Kong where all this hassle can be avoided. Exactly same thing applies to term life insurance plans where terms and premium payments are fixed for a duration of a contract, typically somewhere between 5-40 years long. 

  • I heard during Shanghai lockdown 2022 it was nearly impossible to get an ambulance to go to a hospital. Is that true?

It was indeed very difficult to get a car by calling government-run hotline – 120. You would have queue up for hours until the car was available. On the other hand, many of expats in China managed to get ambulance directly from hospital. Major international hospitals like Jiahui or United Family have their own ambulance services and those could have been arranged much quicker than calling 120.

  • With so many travel restrictions I plan to lower my insurance plan to cover China only as I don’t see myself traveling out of the country in the near future. Any objections?

These day most companies will still let you be covered outside of China during short travels but only for emergency & hospitalization cases. Practically almost same as travel insurance. So you can in face lower your plan to cover Mainland China only and save on the premium compared to having a truly global plan. Major objection for this is however if you decide to upgrade your health insurance for expats in China in the future back to global cover, that might be tricky as upgrade of insurance plan in many cases refers to “re-underwriting”, meaning insurance company will look into your claims before letting you upgrade and in most of cases things they deem chronic (that have a chance of reoccurring in the future) – wont be covered under upgraded plan. Downgrades such as from global cover to China only are typically allowed without any issues.