Health & Protection in China



Moving to China can be a big ordeal if you don’t have visibility on the health and protection of your loved ones and your assets. While a relocation to China presents a lot of challenges, most should be addressed by your employer or company.

Getting a good level of benefits should be a priority. China has a large insurance industry, and it’s still growing rapidly over the years. There are several options for expats to get the proper coverage in the country. Learn more about how you can get the right insurance policies as well as additional expat services while you’re living in China.

Importance of Insurance

Services can be very efficient in China for major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and the likes, but for other more rural areas, or cities that are less busy, getting emergency services can be quite difficult. Getting insurance in a country like China is just one way to not only make sure that your money is protected in an event of an emergency but also to ensure that you can gain access to services without too much hassle.

"Healthcare in a bigger Chinese city is very good. I would always prefer a public hospital to a private one, though. If you live in a small city, like I do, I always recommend going to a big Chinese city for any major treatment."- Anna Zech, Expat in China

For example, getting medical care in China can be a tedious process, you will encounter medical facilities with medical staff that don’t speak English, and medical centres usually need you to have your medical records at the ready before you can get any treatment. Having international insurance service for times like these would be very useful, as most international health insurance plans offer electronic medical storage access for their members and access to a well-selected network of healthcare facilities.

"Healthcare is scary… not so much because of their practices but because of the foreignness of going into a Chinese hospital. From lack of appointments to waiting in line, to lack of privacy to speaking to different levels of doctors to taking care of your own patient history, it can be quite intimidating."- Jeremy Carman, Expat in Tianjin, China

Getting other services such as repatriation and medical evacuation can also be important while you’re living abroad. These among other things are the reason why insurance is important and can be more than just for peace of mind overseas.

Getting Insurance

With a large insurance industry and a global market, getting insurance while you’re living in China will not be difficult. It is advisable for expats to arrange all insurance plans before arriving in the country. Remember to discuss you benefits package sorely with your company, make sure that it relates to the living environment and the hardship of a China residential living.

There are several local and international insurance that offer coverage for general, life, and medical insurance in the country. There are also 2 major insurance organisations that regulate insurance in the country, they are known as the Insurance Association of China (IAC)which regulates the customer service and public policies of insurance companies in the country, and the Insurance Institute of China (IIC) which mainly focuses on policy analysis. These are the associations you need to check for policies and insurance company credibility before you sign up for any plans.

"Hospitals in the big cities are ok. Public hospitals are cheap and effective but crowded. International hospitals are ridiculously overpriced, but staff speaks English and normally you don’t need to wait much. If you don’t have an insurance, I would recommend going to the public hospitals."- Marta Marino, Expat in Suzhou, China

Both foreign and wealthy local residents prefer international insurance policies due to the wider range of coverage especially for health insurance as health services in China can be quite inconsistent. Since 2011, companies that employ foreign workers in China are required to set up a social security insurance plan for their foreign employees within 30 days of their date of hiring. The payment of social insurance for foreign workers are paid monthly, and both the employer and the employee will be paying for basic endowment insurance, basic medical insurance, unemployment insurance, work-related injury insurance, and maternity insurance. Your contribution as an employee will be deducted from your monthly salary.

"The local hospitals are incredibly inexpensive so if we need a test we get it done there and send it to a doctor we know and trust in America to read the results."- Jill Judd, Expat in Inner Mongolia, China

Local Insurance 

As China’s insurance industry is quite large and still growing, there are several local insurance companies that offer all kinds of insurance products. The biggest companies in the country are known as the “Big Five” namely:

If you would like to have local insurance coverage for your needs, these local insurance companies are known as the best and most stable in the country. They offer a wide range of services and coverage such as general insurance like home and property insurance, and car insurance, as well as life and health insurance plans.

Despite the big local insurance industry in the country, most expats, as well as most local residents especially the wealthy residents with plans for frequent international travel, prefer international insurance plans. The wider international coverage not only allows them to have access to travel insurance as a package add-on but also to seek better medical treatments overseas.There is a big international insurance presence in the country; some of the big international insurance companies in China are:

  • AXA
  • Allianz
  • Zurich Insurance Group


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Expat Insurance Services in China