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KerryK

China Local or Global Health Insurance Plan ?

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Am about to buy insurance and have narrowed it down to Cigna Global or Allianz, both are purchased out of China so all (most) customer service is abroad.

1) Anyone out there have any preference for one or the other?

2) Is there any reason I should buy these from the China subsidiaries of these companies? I have anecdotal evidence that customer service is better our of China. (after 4 years here that is no surprise)

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Cigna and Allianz both have a licensed product in China. I would always encourage my clients to get a locally licensed policies. This way you will have a larger local Direct billing network, local support for claims, local knowledge base for facilities, etc.

Could be worth having a look at NOW Health or AXA ICBC, both good comprehensive policies, never had a problem on their customer service side and their premiums are a lot more competitive. If however, you're set on either Allianz or Cigna, I'd go with Cigna, its pricey but you get what you pay for. (Local subsidiary is Cigna&CMC)

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@KerryK

Thanks for the insight, I genuinely appreciate it. Here is my logic for buying outside of China. I truly am open to suggestion, so please tell me what you think:

1) The non-China product allows me unlimited access to healthcare anywhere in the world. If I get very sick I can simply show up in Europe, or seek treatment in Hong Kong, without approval. (no need to trigger repatriation portions of the policy) Global Allianz and Cigna are good with this, I simply tell them what hospital I want and I'm done. I am not sure if local licensed policies can match this freedom?

Local policies may have repatriation but to trigger this I need a local doctor to sign off that I can't get the treatment locally. I would not want to rely on this since you have to be near death for them to sign off on this.

2) Agree that if I was spending time out of Shanghai in 2nd tier cities local companies would probably do direct billing better. I'll give you that one. But I reside 99% of my time here in Shanghai I think it's kind of equal as the big foreign hospitals are well known and covered.

3) Claims handling: I haven't had experience with this personally as I haven't had any claims. Given that anything here that has the words "customer" and "service" in the same sentence is a disaster I am inclined to believe that I would think I'd be better off with the European serviced versions of these policies. This would be especially true if hospital service is provided outside of China (HK or Europe)

4) You see for serious illness (cancer) I do not see Shanghai as my primary source of care but look to Hong Kong or Europe as my end destination. That's what is making me lean toward the non-China variants of these policies.

Is there a flaw in my logic? I honestly appreciate your feed-back.
Thanks

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1) Keep in mind that these are global companies, as such, these policies are not exactly "Local" policies, They're essentially the same as outside China, except that they are approved to be sold within China in accordance to CIRC regulation. They allow the same access worldwide (within area of cover, i.e. world-wide excluding USA) and as such, you can get treatment wherever you wish to get treatment.

In fact, with healthcare costs being what they are in China, if it makes sense financially or if there is no adequate medical facility locally, they will actually fly you somewhere else to be treated. In this case, only the transportation costs would need to be approved.

2) They are, usually all the major private hospitals will have this kind of agreement.

3) Claims handling with these international insurers is not really a problem, there are some insurers that have some growing pains when first entering China but a good broker should know who they are and stay away from them until they have everything in order.

4) Again, you can seek treatment wherever you want.

The main difference with these "local" policies is that they are licensed to be sold in China, that means that you get a Fapiao and that it is regulated by CIRC (China's regulatory body).

Hope this answers your questions.

Cheers

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I was hoping to get some good insights here into the local health insurance options. but im still left somewhat bemused and confused.

I got stung before with Parkway. I was charged over 5 times more than what I would back home in Europe for the same consultation. I was gobsmacked. But you learn the hard way I guess.

From what I can make out - if above comments are accurate - health insurance here is still a bit of a scandal with exorbitantly high premiums. The problem I have is that until I can speak fluent Chinese (pigs will fly), going into a Chinese hospital on my own will always be a daunting and scary experience. When the doctor tells me I need to do this many tests and purchase this many boxes of pills for my sore throat, who am I to argue with him when I can hardly understand a word he is saying!!

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