A fast-paced and dynamic international city of around 25 million citizens means that there is no shortage of choice in Shanghai for expats seeking health insurance and high standard care.

Health issues in Beijing

Food safety is not a major problem in China but standards of hygiene in restaurants may be a little lax compared to western countries. Those with sensitive stomachs may take some time to get accustomed to local food. Western food however is plentiful in Beijing as are higher-end establishments where one may expect food preparation to be more strict.

Water is not potable in Beijing or any other Chinese city. However, drinking water is readily available – you may have large barrels delivered to your home for your water cooler, or you can simply buy it in convenience stores very cheaply.

Pollution is a very serious issue in Beijing and one of the biggest complaints from expats and locals alike. It is very common for the air to be classed as “hazardous for sensitive groups” on certain days by the monitoring authorities. Visibility on some days can occasionally drop to a few hundred metres. OWC suggest doing further research of your own on this topic if you have any doubts about living in Beijing.

Health insurance for expats in Beijing

In China local hospitals provide cheap treatment for minor ailments. However more serious ailments can see bills mount up quickly. So health insurance is a necessity for anyone visiting or working in China. One World Cover is based in China so our knowledge of the coverage options available to you here are second to none. For expats in Beijing seeking a health insurance broker, look no further than our front page.

Pharmacies in Beijing

To dispense non-OTC (over-the-counter) drugs, pharmacies require a prescription issued by a doctor in Beijing as overseas prescriptions are not valid. Hospital pharmacies only accept prescriptions issued by their own doctors. If a patient already has a prescription from overseas, he/she needs to bring his/her overseas prescription and consult a doctor in Beijing in order to obtain a local prescription. If the specific drug is unavailable, an alternative drug may be recommended. Due to China’s strict rules on importing medicine, pharmacies, even those in international hospitals, have limited range of western medication, resulting in high prices. The best course of action is to stock on all your prescriptions before you leave your home country, or on your next visit back.before you leave.

Hospitals in Beijing

Expats tend to avoid public health facilities in Beijing and opt for the city’s private hospitals and clinics. That is not to say local facilities are all of questionable standard. Many local hospitals provide good levels of care, however for foreigners in China it is difficult to know which places are good and which are not. In addition, English is not widely spoken in China and local hospitals are no exception, so this automatically rules out local hospitals for many.

However, there are plentiful international hospitals which provide high standards of care expected by expats looking for health insurance in Beijing.

Doctors in private hospitals often speak English and many are expats themselves. There are also medical clinics that combine both Western and Eastern practices.

It’s important to have medical insurance while in Beijing to cover the costs of the pricier private clinics. This is often included in relocation packages, but expats should carefully check what their policy covers, including dental and optical procedures.

Using private medical services is obviously the best option if your finances can support it. However it has to be said that most of the local population use public hospitals and still enjoy a high life expectancy.