Reply To: Shanghai Expat Medical Insurance: Typical Premiums & Fees

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Health insurance for expats living in Shanghai can get very expensive very fast. Let’s look at a few numbers.

Let’s say you are a family of 4 living in Shanghai, and you want to buy some comprehensive medical insurance that covers both inpatient and outpatient services. One leading international insurance provider offers coverage to Shanghai expats at 3 levels of service.

The mid-priced package provides hospitalization, outpatient services, health checks, emergency medical evacuation, and a variety of other features that expat families in Shanghai would care about. It does NOT cover the US, except for emergencies.

How much can you expect to pay for this kind of coverage?

If you were a single 34 year old living in Shanghai, your annual premiums would be just a bit over US $1500 (as of November 2012).

You first child would cost you an extra $700 or so, and your second child would add another $ 550.

So for the whole family, you can expect to shell out around US$ 4,250 for a year’s worth of comprehensive medical insurance in Shanghai. (Being in Shanghai will cost you around 10% more.) It’s worth it to have piece of mind – but even better if you can get your company to foot at least part of the bill!

BUT, you can lower your premiums significantly by opting for a “deductible” or “excess”. (US providers say deductible, UK and international say excess. Same thing.)

If you select a $100 deductible, then the first $100 in medical expenses each year are your responsibility, and you must pay out of your own pocket.

In the case of this fictional company, a $100 excess will save you around 5%, a $400 excess will cut your premium by 15%, and a $1,600 excess will save you 30%.

Every company is different, and you will have to sit down with an advisor to get the facts for your unique situation. But expats and international Chinese in Shanghai can expect to see these kinds of premiums for high-quality comprehensive medical insurance.