If you’re unlucky enough to have a medical emergency while you’re in China, dial 120 to call an ambulance.
After you arrive at the hospital, you’ll be given a registration ticket and a patient ID card.
Once you’re on the mend, you’ll need to pay for your treatment and medication when you check out (this may also include any drugs or equipment used in the ambulance on the way to hospital, as well as the distance it had to travel). Present your insurance details at this point.
Paying for healthcare
Having health insurance is handy in any country to help bring down your medical expenses, and China is no different.
Most working expats will have some degree of medical insurance from their employer, but this isn’t always the case so it’s important to check.
The cost of the registration tickets you need to buy to see a doctor varies from practitioner to practitioner. The usual price range is between 10 and 100 RMB, but some very experienced doctors may charge more.
Always make sure to buy registration tickets from reputable sources – scalpers sometimes try and resell them at massively inflated prices!3
Many medicines that you’d expect to require a prescription in other countries are sold over the counter in China, though some types do still require one.
After you’ve paid for your treatment or consultation, you can collect and pay for your medication at a pharmacy (hospitals usually have pharmacies on-site). Make sure to hand in your prescription as well as your patient ID card.
Prescriptions are only valid for 24 hours, and some medications can only be collected from hospital pharmacies.
You’ll also need to see a doctor again if you want to get a repeat prescription, but sometimes you can get repeat prescriptions via an online consultation (and the medication can then be delivered to your home address once you’ve paid for it online).