Is Healthcare Free in China for Expats?
China has universal free healthcare for it’s citizens. As an employed foreigner in China you re entitled to participate in this through social insurance. It is a mandatory requirement for all employed expats in the country and get directly deducted from your pay check every month. Portion varies and depends largely on your monthly pay check but as a general rule of thumb it is somewhere between 7-15%.
How can foreigners get social insurance in China?
Social insurance in China consists of 5 pillars and different pillars are paid up by different party, either by you, or by your employer or by both. Below graph represents what parts of social insurance will be contributed by which party.
Source: Hr One Website
It is true that there has been many cases particularly in Shanghai where foreigners and expats managed to omit signing up for mandatory social insurance but rather spend saved money on private medical scheme instead. Ultimately, that decision is on you and subject to whether your HR approves it or no.
Difference between private health insurance and social insurance in China
Most noticeable difference is that social insurance covers far more things such as housing fund and pension that you can start receiving after 15 years of contribution. However, if we put those aside lets see what are major difference on health insurance side.
- social insurance will only reimburse medical expenses in public, government run medical facilities. Not even VIP or International sections. So if you are accustomed to international hospitals like United Family or Parkway – social insurance won’t be much use for you.
See below more details on what are popular international hospitals in China for expats
- only in very few occasions social insurance covers 100% of medical expenses Thus, be prepared that certain medical bills will require copayment from your side, this typically ranges between 10-30%.
- in many cases contribution to social insurance gets more expensive than getting a good private medical insurance. Take for example an average expat with RMN 40,000 salary. Average contribution of 10% will be RMB 4,000 on a monthly basis, that is RMB 48,000 per year. For that much money expatriate can get a family insurance plan for 2-3 people (assuming cover in for China only, in&outpatient and for average ages of 30-35yo).
Check out below article on more details about costs of health insurance in China for foreigners
- while in most cases private medical insurance is cheaper in costs, it will also provide you with far higher limits and coverage without copayments for medical expenses. Oh, and don’t forget that you will have access to private medical facilities so no need to get up early and queue up for a ticket in a hospital 🙂
For more information about health insurance for expats in China please get in touch through this page so one of our consultants can guide you through the options.