Comprehensive Guide: Health Insurance in China for Foreigners

As an expatriate or foreigner residing in China, securing a reliable health insurance plan is crucial. China’s healthcare system can be inconsistent, with significant variations in the quality of care between urban and rural areas. While major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong boast world-class medical facilities, remote regions often lack adequate healthcare resources. To ensure access to the best medical services during your stay in China, obtaining a robust expatriate health insurance plan is highly recommended.

Why Do Foreigners Need Health Insurance in China?

China’s public healthcare system, while extensive, may not provide the level of coverage and convenience that expatriates and foreign nationals are accustomed to. Here are some compelling reasons why you should consider purchasing expat health insurance:

  1. Access to Private Healthcare Facilities: Expatriate health insurance plans grant you access to private hospitals and clinics, which typically offer higher standards of care, multilingual staff, and advanced medical equipment. Private facilities often provide a more comfortable and efficient healthcare experience.

  2. Comprehensive Coverage: China’s public healthcare system may have limitations in terms of coverage for certain treatments, medications, or specialized care. Expat health insurance plans offer comprehensive coverage, ensuring that you receive the necessary medical attention without worrying about unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

  3. Portability and Continuity of Care: Expat health insurance plans are designed to provide coverage regardless of your location within China or even globally. This portability ensures continuity of care, even if you need to seek medical treatment while traveling or relocating within the country.

  4. Familiarity and Convenience: Navigating a foreign healthcare system can be challenging, especially in the midst of a medical emergency. Expat health insurance providers often offer multilingual support, assistance with claim submissions, and guidance on finding suitable medical facilities, making the process more convenient and hassle-free.

Factors Affecting Health Insurance Costs in China

The cost of expatriate health insurance in China can vary significantly based on several factors:

  • Age: Premiums typically increase with age, as the risk of health complications tends to be higher for older individuals.
  • Coverage Level: Plans with higher coverage limits, lower deductibles, and more comprehensive benefits generally have higher premiums.
  • Geographic Coverage Area: Plans that provide global coverage or include the United States tend to be more expensive compared to plans limited to specific regions.
  • Additional Benefits: Extra features such as dental, vision, or maternity coverage will increase the overall cost of the plan.
  • Citizenship: Insurance providers may adjust premiums based on your country of citizenship and associated risks.

On average, expatriates in China can expect to pay between $1,000 and $10,200 per year for a comprehensive expatriate health insurance plan, with the typical cost ranging around $4,382 annually.

Popular Health Insurance Options for Foreigners in China

Several reputable international insurance providers offer expatriate health insurance plans tailored for foreigners living in China. Here are some popular options:

1. Cigna Global Health Insurance

Cigna is a well-established provider of global health insurance solutions. Their plans offer flexibility in customizing coverage, access to a trusted network of hospitals and doctors, and 24/7 customer support. Cigna’s plans are highly regarded for their comprehensive coverage and global reach.

2. GeoBlue Xplorer Health Insurance

GeoBlue’s Xplorer plan is an excellent choice for U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad, including in China. This plan provides premium benefits, customizable deductibles and prescription coverage, and access to an extensive network of medical providers worldwide.

3. William Russell Health Insurance

Founded in 1992, William Russell specializes in international health benefits insurance, covering members in over 160 countries. Their plans offer comprehensive coverage, including cancer treatment and genome testing, with a focus on exceptional customer service.

4. IMG Global Medical Insurance

IMG (International Medical Group) offers a range of affordable health insurance options for expatriates and international citizens living abroad. Their Global Medical Insurance plan provides four coverage levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum), allowing you to choose the plan that best suits your needs and budget.

Tips for Choosing the Right Expatriate Health Insurance in China

When selecting an expatriate health insurance plan for your stay in China, consider the following tips:

  • Evaluate your healthcare needs: Assess your age, pre-existing conditions, and anticipated healthcare requirements to determine the appropriate level of coverage.
  • Check provider networks: Ensure that the insurance plan has a well-established network of hospitals and medical facilities in the cities or regions where you plan to reside or travel within China.
  • Consider global coverage: If you anticipate traveling frequently outside of China, opt for a plan that provides global coverage or includes the countries you plan to visit.
  • Review exclusions and limitations: Carefully read the policy document to understand any exclusions or limitations on coverage, such as pre-existing conditions, waiting periods, or specific treatments that may not be covered.
  • Compare quotes: Obtain quotes from multiple insurance providers to find the most suitable plan that fits your budget and coverage requirements.


Navigating China’s healthcare system as an expatriate or foreigner can be challenging without the right insurance coverage. By securing a comprehensive expatriate health insurance plan, you can enjoy peace of mind and access to high-quality medical care, whether you’re residing in a major city or a remote region of China. Take the time to research and compare different insurance options to find the plan that best suits your needs and ensures a safe and healthy experience during your stay in this fascinating country.

Health Insurance in China | Everything you need to know and finding the best one right for you


How much is medical insurance in China for foreigners?

According to the 2023 edition of Pacific Prime’s Cost of Health Insurance report, China is the 11st most expensive country based on average premiums for international private medical insurance (IPMI) plans for individuals after seeing a 10% increase from USD $4,798 in 2021 to USD $5,274 in 2022.

Is healthcare free in China for foreigners?

Healthcare in China is free for Chinese citizens and Chinese permanent residents. If you’re a foreigner with permanent resident status you may be able to access government supported public health insurance. If not, you’ll need private health cover.

Can foreigners buy insurance in China?

Health Insurance for Expats and Foreigners in China Expats in China can choose international health insurance or enroll in public health insurance if they are eligible. Public healthcare coverage and care can vary, so many expats buy international health insurance plans.

How much is insurance in China?

The cost of international insurance for foreigners residing in China will cost an average of US $4,382 per year (an estimate based on historical sales over the last 18 months). Premiums range from as low as $1,000 per year to as high as $10,200 per year or more for premium-level coverage.

Leave a Comment