Expats in China choose local medical care over international clinics

Published:  14 Apr at 6 PM
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Increasingly, expats working in China are choosing the international departments found in local hospitals as their preferred medical hubs.

As charges for medical and surgical treatment in China’s extensive network of international private clinics continue to rocket, a growing number of expats are finding that the international clinics within local hospitals are fast, professional and efficient at around a tenth of the cost. The growing awareness amongst the expatriate community of medical care options in China’s major cities has spurred increased usage of local facilities.

Although the upscale private clinics will always be popular with expats on generous relocation allowances including top-drawer medical insurance, ‘Western-trained’ in the case of doctors doesn’t always mean the best. For specialised treatment, it’s quite possible that an international private clinic may not have a specialist relevant to the immediate problem, resulting in a transfer to a public hospital.

One Italian expat in Beijing, panicking because his eyes had swollen due to painful pressure from within, headed straight for his nearest international clinic, where he was told there wasn't an a eye specialist on call. A transfer to a local public hospital was arranged, leaving the worried patient even more concerned as he’d heard tales of chaotic conditions in local public hospitals.

To his surprise, his experience once he’d arrived was positive and included fast, efficient treatment at a very affordable price. He’s now one of a high number of Western expats who’ve deserted the overpriced private clinics for the local hospital by choice, whether or not they have private health insurance as part of their expat packages.

Of the 300 patients seen daily by doctors at Beijing's China-Japan Friendship Hospital, up to 40 per cent are expats. The general expat opinion of Chinese doctors is that they do their jobs in a calm, rational and polite manner and don’t add on unnecessary tests or services in order to inflate prices.

Also, given the sheer size of China’s biggest public hospitals, it’s likely that a full range of specialist departments as well as the latest in medical and surgical technological advances are available on call.
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