Moving overseas is an important decision that, along with excitement, brings numerous concerns. Both new and experienced expatriates view the purchase of medical insurance to be an additional cause of anxiety and stress.
In your home country, the majority of people are provided with medical insurance by an employer. Even if your employer does not provide medical insurance there are many sources of good information to help and assist you. However, that changes once you move overseas. Not all companies have the experience to assist their employees with medical insurance overseas, and expatriates often have to take care of medical insurance on their own.
China’s insurance market is still at a relative immaturity stage as compared to developed countries and dominated by domestic insurance companies. Foreign insurers are still very new to the Chinese market and have yet to make significant inroads into the domestic insurance industry.
These are your options when you go to China:
- No insurance
- Insure at an international company located in China (AXA Minmetals Interglobal, MSH…)
- Insure via your home insurance
- Insure at a Chinese company (IMG Ping’An, Goodhealth Chinalife, Taiping…)
Most insurance companies provide these types of plans:
- Individual plans
- Family plans
- Group plans
- Travel plans
- Teacher plans
Every international health insurance policy can be fully customized to meet individual needs and requirements. Health insurance policies allow individuals to customize their level of cover. Understanding the definitions and key terms of a policy means that you know what to expect from your plan.
The main coverage options to consider before purchasing a plan:
- Chronic Conditions
- Emergency Assistance and Evacuation
- In-Patient: Treatment at any medical facility or hospital where an overnight stay is deemed medically necessary. Coverage typically include: organ transplants, x-rays, pathology, ambulance transportation, MRI-scans, PET-scans, CT-scans etc.
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Out-Patient: The prodedure does not require hospital admission and may also be performed outside the premises of a hospital
- Overall Maximum Benefit
- Pre-Existing Conditions: These can potentially affect the insurer’s decision to provide cover. For group insurances, according to the number of employees and the gravity of the conditions, the insurer will still consider to cover it.
- Deductibles: The amount of expenses that must be paid out of pocket before an insurer will cover any expenses. It is normally quoted as a fixed quantity and is a part of most policies covering losses to the policy holder. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium, and vice versa.
- Geographic Coverage: Mainland China only, worldwide including USA and Canada or excluding USA and Canada but with coverage in case of emergency in these area.
- Waiting periods
- Payment options: The major players on the insurance market have a wide network of medical facilities where you don’t need to pay in advance. It is recommended to use these hospitals within the insurers’ network.
Many people take out a health insurance policy with the intention of having coverage over the course of their lifetime. It is therefore advisable that you understand the ins and outs of any policy before purchasing it. Plans will vary due to individual requirements, when purchasing a policy it is good to think about what you would like your plan to provide.
Differences between individual and group insurance
Individual insurance is a policy that you purchase from an insurance company on your own and not through an employer to cover your health. You can choose coverage either for your own or including your family. Even if you have pre-existing conditions, some insurance companies still provide coverage for you. Since this policy is covering you alone or just including your family members, the premium is usually higher and more expensive compared with the group plan.
Group healthcare is generally purchased by the employer to cover their employees. Basically, the premium is relatively lower than an individual policy because it is based on a group of people who have the similar job base. An important note, there is no assurance that the employees are coverd by the policy once they are retrenched by the employers or they have resigned from the company. When someone is switching from group health insurance to an individual one, the most obvious difference is the increment of the premium.
So, now a comparative study on individual and group health insurance. We are only showing you the major players on the Chinese insurance industry who were nice and fast enough to send us their information.