Chengdu is an emerging city in southwest China and regional hub which is developing an increasingly international profile. What the city lacks in sheer modernity of the tier one cities on the east coast, it makes up for with charm and slower pace of life which appeals to many. In terms of healthcare, Chengdu also doesn’t have quite the same range of options for expats seeking health insurance and high end hospitals, however, there is still a good standard available.
Health issues in Chengdu
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 is available in Chengdu, mainly in areas of the city with a large expat population. However this is not Shanghai or Beijing, higher-end establishments where one may expect food preparation to be more strict are less numerous.
Water is not potable in Chengdu 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 less of a problem in Chengdu compared with the east coast cities. However, it is still an issue in all larger cities in China and Chengdu is no different. The weather can have a big affect on the air in Chengdu – due to the local topography the city receives relatively little sunshine and the skies are regularly overcast which can give the perception of pollution even on days when the air is clear.
Health insurance for expats in Chengdu
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 Chengdu seeking a health insurance broker, look no further than our front page.
Pharmacies in Chengdu
To dispense non-OTC (over-the-counter) drugs, pharmacies require a prescription issued by a doctor in Chengdu 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 Shanghai 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 your prescriptions before you leave your home country, or on your next visit back.
Hospitals in Chengdu
Expats tend to avoid public health facilities in Chengdu 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 Chengdu.
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 Chengdu 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.