Healthcare and medical care
When travelling to China, you should take out comprehensive travel insurance. Medical care services comparable to Western standards are very expensive in China, and are provided mainly by foreign hospitals. Repatriation is expensive and difficult to arrange without insurance. Hospitals often require advance payment in cash. There are very few medical services, such as private practices, available outside hospitals. The standard of public hospitals varies and waiting lists are usually long.
In Peking, Shanghai, Guangzhou and a few other of China´s large cities, there are international clinics whose doctors are foreigners or Chinese citizens who have studied abroad. Chinese hospitals have their own practices, which patients only discover when they arrive.
In a case of an illness, you can ask advice in English from
- United Family Healthcare (UFH) by calling +86 4008 919 191 (24h) or +86 10 5927 7120
- Raffles Hospital by calling +86 10 6462 9112 (24h) or +86 10 8793 7999 (24h).
Ambulance availability and level of equipment varies. The emergency number 120 is operated only in Chinese, and the ambulance personnel most likely does not speak English. As a tourist, you may have to rely on a taxi or other form of transport to get to a hospital. It is a good idea to install a translation application (such as WeChat Translate, Google Translate) on your mobile phone and test its functionality before leaving on your trip. In an emergency in Peking area, you can also call 999 to a Red Cross service centre.
The staff at the United Family Healthcare (Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin) and Raffles Hospital (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin) usually speak English. Most specialised medical care services are available. The hospitals also have an intensive care unit and maternity ward. In serious cases, it may be necessary to resort to Peking Union Medical College Hospital or the services of the wards for foreigners at China-Japan Friendship Hospital. It is possible to manage in English at Peking Union Medical College Hospital. In addition, Jiahui International Hospital and Clinics operate in Shanghai. Dental services are available at the hospitals mentioned above and, for example, at ParkwayHealth dental centres (Shanghai, Chengdu, Suzhou). In Beijing, the service is also available in English at the following hospitals: VISTA Medical, Raffles Medical and Oasis International Hospital.
Doctors in China only rarely speak English outside international hospitals, so it is easier to communicate through an interpreter or a mobile app. There is only limited availability of healthcare services outside large cities. The level of training of staff in rural clinics varies and the availability of medicines and equipment is limited.
Be aware that medical records in state hospitals are often incomplete and are seldom filed. If you are treated in a public hospital and require documentation concerning your treatment, for example, for follow-up care in Finland, ask the staff for this at a sufficiently early stage.
If you are travelling to China to work for longer than six months, you must join the Chinese social security system, which also includes medical insurance.