For expats, especially families, health care can be a concern when they move abroad. Expat Family Health interviewed Dr. Amanda Barry, an Australian expat who lives in Beijing, about her experience of healthcare in China and what insurance she chose.
Amanda, tell us a bit about yourself.
My husband and I moved to China about six years ago. I was working at the Australian embassy as a cultural relations officer in Beijing. Then we had our first baby, in Beijing, in July this year. I guess we plan to live in Beijing, or probably in Asia, for the next few years with perhaps a longer term plan.
What do you like about living in China?
China is an incredible and exciting place to live, though sometimes it is a little bit exhausting. It will be interesting to see what is like living here with young children, that might make it a different experience I think.
Is it necessary for expats to have health insurance in China?
Yes, I would say it is. Nothing is covered under the system here and you never know when you might have an accident. Through winter a lot of people have problems because of the pollution and the bad weather. I would say it is important for peace of mind to have an insurance plan. The driving style here is also quite “interesting”, so in case of a car accident insurance is essential.
Have you ever used your insurance plan? For what?
I used the insurance plan to have my baby (now six weeks old). It worked out fine. I went to the hospital in Beijing which is very expensive as it is an international standard hospital. All the staff speak English and the service is really good, however, it is still expensive. My Integra Global plan covered everything, 100%. I had pain relief and an epidural and they covered that as well. I thought it was great.
Why did you choose your particular insurance policy?
Well, to be honest, it was recommended by a friend of ours. The package from my previous job came to an end, I needed to look for something else and other packages were very expensive.
At that time we were not looking at having kids immediately, it was just me, so I only had a basic health plan with Integra and my husband came on that plan. Later we started thinking about having kids very seriously so we had another look and we decided to choose this family plan. This would be more comprehensive and it was also able to cover the birth of a baby in Beijing. At the hospital they speak English which has been very good for us.
So now we have added our daughter to the plan as well, so she is completely covered. When I had the previous package I never had a plan. Integra makes it easy to make claims and they also work very efficiently.
Would you recommend your insurance plan to others? Why?
Yes, I would. I have actually recommended it to friends who were in a similar situation. Integra offers good coverage and a good price as well.
There are different packages for different needs and Integra always responds to my emails quickly. I haven’t had any problems so far. The staff are able to speak good English. You want their understanding. If I hadn’t had the insurance, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the international hospital and I would have come back and gone to Australia. The insurance enabled me to have a baby in Beijing. So, I didn’t have to travel while pregnant and that was really good. It was good to know that everything was just covered and we could just focus on the confinement.
Amanda and her family are covered by Intera Global’s Premier Family Plan.