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See a doctor in China – Hospitals in China [AUDIOS AND PDF]

Getting ill in a foreign country can be tough and tricky. What you can do in this particular circumstance? How to see a doctor when you’re learning Chinese in China?

How to see a doctor in China?

see a doctor when you learn Chinese in China

After been living in China for a while, most expats find it is more convenient and easier to see a doctor in China.

Steve, a student of Keats School once shared his experience of seeing a doctor in China. “It is fast. You don’t have to make an appointment for several weeks in advance. One of the interesting things is that before seeing the doctor, you should buy a “ticket” at a very cheap price first. The treatment fee is quite reasonable as well. A same simple surgery will cost you much more in UK or America”.

The “ticket” mentioned here is the receipt of registration at the clinic department of the hospital when you’re seeing a doctor in a large-scale public or private hospital. Different from the procedure of seeing a doctor in western society, you don’t really have to make an appointment with the doctor for several weeks in advance, but to go to the hospital in the early morning and wait in a line. This might be different when it comes to the top hospitals in top-tier Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. You may have to wait for a long period of time if you intend to see a reputable doctor. This is a common problem of the Chinese medical system. Common people trust the public hospital much better than the regional/community hospitals and clinics. It leads to a result that the reputable public hospital is always crowded with patients. In a crowded place like this, it is also easy to get lost and confused especially when you’re not a local.  

Before meeting the doctor for further medical consultation, you’re supposed to provide your basic personal information for medical staff at the front desk, so they can suggest which department or which doctor is more appropriate in your situation. At the same time, they will issue you the “ticket” as proof that you have successfully booked a meeting with the doctor and you’re in the line now. It takes you a shorter time for waiting when you are at a community hospital or a community clinic.

Though you may see lots of Bilingual Notes and Signs in the hospital, it is still not easy to communicate with the clinician in English, which is also one of the interesting facts you will find in a Chinese hospital. In this circumstance, being able to express yourself in the Chinese language properly is essentially useful. If you’re not fluent in Chinese speaking yet, go asking your local friends or even your Chinese teacher for assistance is a practical solution.

As the progress of the telecommunication system, some public/international hospitals have set up the online system for registration and booking appointments already, which makes it easier for international students to see a doctor by using mobile. There are lots of useful apps you can use when living in China. By using these apps smartly, you can reach every corner of your life and enjoy a smoother transition when learning Mandarin in China.

One thing to notice is that the medical bill is required to pay separately at different stages of consulting and treating. For example, you are supposed to pay for the medical examination fee before having a further consultation even if your consultation has not finished yet. The bill of medical treatment is also due to be paid before you actually accept the treatment.

The medical expense in a Chinese hospital is relatively lower compared with most other countries, but it could be even cheaper if you have bought effective international medical insurance or you have bought the international student insurance in China after receiving your student visa. This insurance covers most medical expenses you can name in a Chinese hospital. We will discuss this later.

How many hospitals are there in China?

general info about hospitals in China

As of the end of April 2020, the number of medical and health institutions in China reached 1.011 million. There are 34,000 hospitals, including 12,000 public hospitals and 23,000 private hospitals. There are 957,000 primary medical and health institutions, including 35,000 community health service centres (stations), 36,000 township health centres, 616,000 village clinics, and 245,000 clinics (medical offices).

What are the best hospitals in China?  

best hospitals in China

In China, all hospitals will be evaluated and graded in accordance with the “The Management Standards of Hospital Classification and Grading.” The hierarchical management system is divided into three levels and ten grades. According to the functions, facilities, and technical strength of the hospital, the hospitals will be firstly classified into different levels of Level one, Level two and Level three, and then furtherly reviewed as grades A, B, and C. Among them, the special grade is added to the Level three hospitals.

In this reviewing and grading system, the best hospitals are hospitals of Level three with the special grade and Grade A.

These two types of hospitals have complete rules and regulations, more standardized clinical treatment operations, and advanced instruments and equipment.

What if I get sick in China?

insurance when you learn Chinese in China

When you get sick and need to see a doctor in China, it’s better to consult the insurance company about which qualified hospitals are covered under your insurance before heading to the hospital. The insurance company will also let you know what details you should pay attention to get your insurance claimed successfully.   

According to the relevant regulations of the Chinese Education Department, international students must purchase comprehensive insurance during their studies in China. The insurance should cover accidental injury, hospitalization and high-cost medical insurance. The school will purchase insurance for the international students who enjoy the scholarship issued by the government in accordance with relevant regulations; the rest of the international students need to purchase insurance at their own expense. For international students without medical insurance, the school will not handle their registration procedures.

At Keats School, all Keats students can enjoy the Comprehensive Medical Insurance and Protection Scheme for Foreigners Staying in China for free. You can find more details about what covered in the Comprehensive Medical Insurance and Protection Scheme for Foreigners Staying in China through the webpage:

One of the benefits of being a Keats student is that you can enjoy comprehensive medical insurance for free. To convenient all Keats student and let them focus on their Mandarin learning in China, Keats School will purchase the insurance for each student with a length in accordance with their study time. For example, if you plan to study at Keats School for 6 months, the school will buy the insurance with an effective duration of 6 months accordingly. The effective duration of the insurance varies from 1 month up to 12 months.

When purchasing international student insurance, there are four aspects that need to be considered:

Firstly, to confirm that the insurance covers the comprehensiveness of medical types, in addition to the most common injuries, health screenings, etc., it should also include mental illness, dentistry, drug abuse, etc.;

Secondly, to confirm the scope of the hospital covered by the insurance. The covered hospital is preferably near the place of residence;

Thirdly, to confirm the effective time covered by the insurance, some of the effective time of insurance does not cover the school vacation period, or does not include the injury or illness during the internship or part-time job;

At last, the method of claim settlement should be confirmed. It is necessary to clarify the maximum claim amount of insurance and the procedure of insurance claim settlement. The most practical way is to pay directly to the doctor, which is directly settled by the insurance company and the hospital.

Chinese vocabularies for seeing a doctor

Hospital 医院 yī yuàn speaker Emergency room 急诊室 jí zhěn shì speaker to register 挂号 guà hào speaker
Nurse 护士 hù shi speaker Surgeon 外科医生 wài kē yī sheng speaker Inspection/examine 检查 jiǎn chá speaker
Blood test 验血 yàn xiě speaker Result 结果 jiég uǒ speaker to be hospitalized 住院 zhù yuàn speaker
to leave hospital 出院 chū yuàn speaker get injured 受伤 shòushāng speaker be sick 生病 shēngbìng speaker
have a fever 发烧 fā shāo speaker have a cold 感冒 gǎn mào speaker stuffy nose 鼻塞 bí sāi speaker
toothache 牙痛 yá tòng speaker vomit 呕吐 ǒu tù speaker headache 头痛 tóu tòng speaker
cough 咳嗽 ké sou speaker stomachache 胃痛 wèi tòng speaker backache 背痛 bèi tòng 莴笋 wō sǔn speaker
allergy/allergic 过敏 guò mǐn speaker diarrhea 拉肚子 lā dù zi speaker nauseous 恶心 ě xīn speaker
Take medicine 吃药 chī yào speaker have an operation 做手术 zuò shǒu shù speaker injection 打针 dǎ zhēn speaker
pharmacy 药店 yào diàn speaker vitamin 维他命/维生素 wéi tā mìng /wéi shēng sù speaker anti-inflammatory drugs 消炎药 xiāo yán yào speaker


Download the PDF of [See a doctor in China – Hospitals in China]

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