What qualifies as a smoker for health insurance in China?
As an expat in China, for an individual or family health insurance policy you will need to fill out application form to get the plan. Complexity of enrollment form depends on marketing team of insurance company. However there are a lot of similarities between questions that are asked on it between companies. Apart from regular height and weight figure, almost all companies these days ask if insured person smokes. This article will guide you how smoking and alcohol affects your health insurance in China.
General rule for insurance providers to qualify if someone is a smoker is if they consume more than 14 cigarettes. In that case form will go for further review with underwriting team. It is hard to predict the outcome of such. More conservative companies might require you to provide a recent check up report. In our experience this is largely a case if a person states they smoke more than 30 cigarettes a day. There is also a chance insurance company might apply special loading on you medical insurance in China. Loading refers to a certain % that you will be required to pay on top of a standard premium. Given the fact of course that you still want to continue with coverage.
According to World Health Organization, more than 22% of world population use tobacco on a daily basis. This results in severe chronic medical conditions over the long term. This, in particular, a major aspect why insurance companies carefully assess such situations.
Do I need to notify insurance company if I started smoking?
Situation is very different if you are already insured for some time and decided to consume tobacco. There is no specific rule that you need to notify insurance company about that as there is a continuation of cover. This means you are covered as per terms given on the initial start day of insurance contract. This is also known as a first day of the policy.
Typical results are facing special terms on your insurance coverage. Additionally, medical team might ask you further questions before they finalize the enrollment. It is important to remember that smoking habit overall brings negative impact on your health over a long-term. A person who is keen to smoke is more likely to suffer from common cough or cold than a person who isn’t. List of potential future medical conditions that can develop because of smoking is endless.
How will insurance companies treat tobacco and alcohol related treatment?
With most insurance providers in China there is a very clear exclusion in terms of what cover is available on this matter. It is common to explicitly state that they won’t cover anything related to drug addiction or alcoholism. Same goes if a person injures himself in let’s say an accident when under influence of smoking or alcohol. These exclusions may also include detoxification programs and other similar sort of treatments. Some may just state alcohol or tobacco, while there are companies that will not cover any medical treatments if a person is being under influence of “any other intoxicating substance”. This gives insurance company the ultimate role to decide if they are going to process your claim or no.
When it comes to alcohol, there is also a very similar approach for health insurance in China. Foreigners and expats shall be prepared to be asked if they drink more than 20 units per week or no. Unit refers to 250ml of beer or 1 glass of wine. Same applies for stronger spirits. Numbers higher than industry norm of 20 a week will more likely cause extra investigation. Meaning more questions from insurance company’s underwriting team to finish the enrollment. If insured person however developed a habit of drinking while being insured by the policy, there is typically no need to notify insurance company on this.
What if I quit smoking while under cover from insurance company in China?
Good news are, if your policy has been subject to special terms because of tobacco use – those can be removed on renewal date. So how can quit smoking affect health insurance in China? In many cases insurance company might also want to ask for a recent check up report. Requirements are different by each company but usually include lung CT or X-Ray. Based on this they will determine how much loading on the premium shall be removed. We have had clients who faced 20% increase in price from a particular insurance provider due to their heavy smoking habit. This has been reduced to 10% once they stopped smoking.
To summarize, if your insurance plan previous had special terms with regards to excessive use of tobacco, we can help you change it. In this case, quitting smoking can actually positively impact your health insurance in China. Our consultants also got a proven record that insurance company will be willing to re-assess the situation again in 2 years. Keep in mind that such review quite often requires recent check up report as a back up.
We will help you find the best expatriate health insurance in China at affordable costs. Get in touch for a consultation.