Information for Patients

In China, the government bears the overall responsibility in providing health care services to its citizens. Every citizen is entitled to basic health care, which is provided by the local governments – provinces, prefectures, cities, counties and towns. Services provided by private hospitals and clinics are also available, but the extent is much smaller when compared to the public ones. Hospitals in China are categorized by a 3-tier system – primary, secondary and tertiary, according to the provision of medical care and education, and the conduct of medical research of the hospitals. The quality of the health care services in China varies a lot from region to region. The best services can be found in the major cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou; but in the most rural areas, only the basic facilities can be found. 

China does not have universal healthcare coverage. Currently, there are three types of publicly financed health insurance. First, is the urban employment-based basic medical insurance. This type of insurance is financed by employer and employee payroll tax, with minimal government funding. The second type is urban resident basic insurance, which is mainly funded by the government with minimal individual premium contributions. The last type is the rural cooperative medical scheme, which targets at the residents in rural areas. Private health insurance also plays an important role in China health care system as it serves as the primary coverage source for most people. It is purchased to cover payments in publicly financed health insurance and is provided mainly by commercial insurance companies. 

Information for Health Care Professionals

According to the “Law of Practicing Doctors of the People’s Republic of China”, the state shall implement the system of examination of doctors’ qualifications. The examination of doctors’ qualifications is divided into examination of practicing doctors’ qualifications and examination of assistant practicing doctors’ qualification. Those who pass the examination shall get the qualification for practicing doctors or for assistant practicing doctors. After obtaining the qualification they may apply for registration with local health administration departments of the people’s government at or above the county level.  The languages of  instruction for most medical courses are Chinese and English.  

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a unique specialty practiced in China. With over 3000 years of history, TCM is widely used by the local people. This kind of traditional medical practices include various kinds of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, cupping therapy, gua sha and so on. TCM is considered to be good for milder conditions, such as cough or cold. Local people believe that TCM could help to “clear the root of the disease” or “cut the tail of the sickness”.  In recent years, TCM is combined with Western medicine are concurrently used by patients. 

The number of foreign doctors working in China is not big. Language, salary and license problems are some factors hindering the foreign doctors’ development in China. 

Information for Travelers 

Since the quality of healthcare services in different regions varies and there is a widespread mistrust to doctors and the healthcare system in general, many Chinese, especially those who could afford travelling and are in critical need, tend to seek medical services outside China. According to the numbers given by the Shanghai Medical Tourism Products and Promotion Platform, around 60,000 Chinese travel abroad for medical services in areas of oncology, maternity and chronic disease. The US, Japan and Germany are some population destinations for outbound medical tourism. 

Languages commonly spoken in hospitals and health care facilities are Chinese (Mandarin and other dialects regarding the location of the hospital) and English (to a very limited extent)

Link to the Ministry of health website for that country