A fast-paced and dynamic international city of around 25 million citizens means that there is no shortage of choice in Shanghai for expats seeking health insurance and high standard care.

Health issues in Shanghai

Food safety is not a major problem in China but standards of hygiene in restaurants may be a little lax compared to western countries. Those with sensitive stomachs may take some time to get accustomed to local food. Western food however is plentiful in Shanghai as are higher-end establishments where one may expect food preparation to be more strict.

Water is not potable in Shanghai or any other Chinese city. However, drinking water is readily available – you may have large barrels delivered to your home for your water cooler, or you can simply buy it in convenience stores very cheaply.

Public security in Shanghai is very high and violent crime very rare compared with western cities.

Pollution is a serious issue in Shanghai. Although the air is generally considered to be better than other large Chinese cities, it is common for the air to be classed as “hazardous for sensitive groups” on certain days by the monitoring authorities. In day to day life, individuals are affected differently, on the worst days some may still find the air may not be noticeably unclean, others may insist on remaining indoors. OWC suggest doing further research of your own on this topic if you have any doubts about living in Shanghai.

Health insurance for expats in Shanghai

In China local hospitals provide cheap treatment for minor ailments. However more serious ailments can see bills mount up quickly. So health insurance is a necessity for anyone visiting or working in China. One World Cover is based in Shanghai so our knowledge of the coverage options available to you here are second to none. For expats in Shanghai seeking a health insurance broker, look no further than our front page.

Pharmacies in Shanghai

To dispense non-OTC (over-the-counter) drugs, pharmacies require a prescription issued by a doctor in Beijing as overseas prescriptions are not valid. Hospital pharmacies only accept prescriptions issued by their own doctors. If a patient already has a prescription from overseas, he/she needs to bring his/her overseas prescription and consult a doctor in Shanghai in order to obtain a local prescription. If the specific drug is unavailable, an alternative drug may be recommended. Due to China’s strict rules on importing medicine, pharmacies, even those in international hospitals, have limited range of western medication, resulting in high prices. The best course of action is to stock on your prescriptions before you leave your home country, or on your next visit back.

Hospitals in Shanghai

Expats tend to avoid the often inconsistent public healthcare in Shanghai and rather opt for the city’s private hospitals and clinics. Fortunately there are many of these, and they often subscribe to the high standards of care that’s expected by expats in Shanghai.

Doctors in private hospitals often speak English and many are expats themselves. There are also medical clinics that combine both Western and Eastern practices.

It’s important to have medical insurance while in Shanghai to cover the costs of the pricier private clinics. This is often included in relocation packages, but expats should carefully check what their policy covers, including dental and optical procedures.

Although it’s certainly recommended expats utilise private medical services, most of the local population uses public services and still have an incredibly high life expectancy.

One World Cover is a leading insurance consulting company and insurance broker to large employers of expats in Asia. We are one of Asia's leading employee benefits specialists and 100s of companies and schools trust One World Cover to help manage the quality health insurance coverage they provide for 1,000s of employees.


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