Beijing at a Glance
Healthcare and Hospitals in BeijingiStockphoto
You should probably not rely on traditional Chinese medicine only.
Firstly, you should know the importance of a good medical insurance for life in China. The government introduced a general healthcare system for all urban workers and employees in the late 1990s.
As of October 15, 2011, foreign employees are officially included in the Chinese government’s health insurance plan as well. However, public healthcare does not necessarily meet expat needs. Therefore, you should either purchase an international health insurance policy or private care from a Chinese insurance provider.
Also check your embassy’s health tips for more information on diseases common in the Beijing area and familiarize yourself with their symptoms. At the moment, this includes especially hand-foot-mouth-disease among babies and kids, hepatitis, rabies, and the rare case of avian influenza or Japanese encephalitis.
When preparing for a long-term stay in China, get the recommended vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhus, and Japanese encephalitis. You should also take a first-aid kit, a supply of prescription medication, and contraceptives with you before leaving for Beijing. Malaria, however, is only an issue in several provinces of southern China. In Beijing, no precautions against malaria or dengue fever are required.
Hospitals and Doctors
If you are looking for a doctor or dentist in Beijing, be aware that it is customary in China to go and see a doctor at a clinic. Your embassy may have a list of hospitals as well as dental clinics with Western standards and medical staff fluent in English or your mother tongue. If your child attends an international school, they often have a small healthcare center or a school nurse who watches out for common children’s illnesses.
Recommended medical care providers include, among others, SOS International Clinic (Sanyuanqiao, Suite 105, Wing 1, Kunsha Building, 16 Xinyuanli, Chaoyang District), Elite Dental Clinic (in Chaoyang), as well as Beijing United Family Hospital (#2 Jiangtai Lu, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100016).
If you have to attend a hospital, you often need to pay for your treatment on the spot. Bigger international clinics may accept credit cards or debit cards as a method of payment too. Your health insurance provider will reimburse you later. Since private clinics in China can be very expensive, make sure that your healthcare plan really covers the costs or that you have repatriation insurance to return home for a hospital stay, childbirth, etc.
Health Risks and Emergencies
As far as keeping healthy is concerned, both respiratory diseases and diarrhea are common ailments among foreigners living in Beijing. The former is due to the air pollution in the municipal area. Please check the daily air quality with the US Embassy. If the rating is 100 or higher, little children, elderly people, and patients with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases should take particular care. In early 2013, the smog levels were all too often off the charts.
To avoid diarrhea, use only bottled mineral water for drinking, brushing your teeth, and doing the dishes. Boiled, filtered, and disinfected tap water might also do. Make liberal use of soap, disinfectant, and paper towels as well, and wash your hands as often as possible.
In case of emergency, call 110 (police), 119 (fire) or 120 (ambulance). If your health insurance plan covers treatment at an international private clinic, you can also phone their alarm center or emergency department directly. Just in case, however, ask at your embassy for an emergency form with Chinese translations of important stock phrases useful in such situations.