China - Health China - Health
Western-style medical facilities with international staff are available in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and a few other large cities. Many other hospitals in major Chinese cities have so-called VIP wards (gaogan bingfang). These feature reasonably up-to-date medical technology and physicians who are both knowledgeable and skilled. Most VIP wards also provide medical services to foreigners and have English-speaking doctors and nurses.
Most hospitals in China will not accept medical insurance from the United States, with the exception of the following hospitals:
Beijing United Family Hospital,
Beijing Friendship Hospital,
International Medical Center in Beijing,
Peking Union Medical Center, and
Shanghai Family Health United.
Travelers will be asked to post a deposit prior to admission to cover the expected cost of treatment. Hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards for payment. Even in the VIP/Foreigner wards of major hospitals, however, American patients have frequently encountered difficulty due to language, cultural, and regulatory differences. Physicians and hospitals have sometimes refused to supply American patients with complete copies of their Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results, scans, and x-rays. All Americans traveling to China are strongly encouraged to buy foreign medical care and medical evacuation insurance prior to arrival. Travelers who want a list of medical facilities in China that will treat foreigners can access that information at the Embassy’s website. Information for consular districts can be accessed by clicking “locations” in the upper right-hand corner of this site.
Ambulances do not carry sophisticated medical equipment, and ambulance personnel generally have little or no medical training. Therefore, injured or seriously ill Americans may be required to take taxis or other immediately available vehicles to the nearest major hospital rather than waiting for ambulances to arrive. In rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are generally available. Rural clinics are often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in emergency situations.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless on a reimbursable basis or if supplemental coverage is purchased. Furthermore, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for any medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S., or even to Hong Kong, may cost well in excess of $100,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Raffles Medical Clinic, UnitedHealthcare Global, and Heathrow Air Ambulance offer medical insurance policies designed for travelers.
Raffles Medical Clinic Beijing (Formerly Beijing International SOS Clinic)
Address: Suite 105, Wing 1, Kunsha Building, No 16 Xinyuanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100027, China
Telephone: (86 10) 6462-9112
UnitedHealthcare Global (Formerly MEDEX Assistance Corporation)
U.S. toll free:1-800-732-5309
U.S. toll free: 1-800-527-0218
Address: 8501 LaSalle Road, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21286, USA
Heathrow Air Ambulance
Heathrow is an air evacuation service with offices in the United States and England. Travelers can pre-arrange air evacuation insurance and other emergency travel assistance. This service also has a business plan to assist foreigners who lack travel insurance.
Address: Heathrow Air Ambulance Service, 15554 FM, Suite 195 Houston, TX. 77095-2704.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad.
Other Health Information
Air pollution is a significant problem throughout China. Travelers should consult their doctor prior to travel and consider the impact seasonal smog and heavy particulate pollution may have on them. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates have air quality monitors to measure PM 2.5 particulates as an indication of the air quality.
Poor sterilization practices are problems in China, contributing to transmission of diseases such as hepatitis, which is endemic in China. In order to protect themselves from blood and other tissue borne disease such as hepatitis and HIV, travelers should always ask doctors and dentists to use sterilized equipment and be prepared to pay for new syringe needles in hospitals or clinics. Tuberculosis is endemic in China.
Most roads and towns in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at altitudes over 10,000 feet. Travelers in these areas should seek medical advice in advance of travel, allow time for acclimatization to the high altitude, and remain alert to signs of altitude sickness.
Prior to departing for China, travelers are advised to consult the CDC’s traveler’s health website, prior to departing for China.