Giving Birth In China
As more foreign companies open offices in China and import foreign staff to oversee operations, so has there been an ever growing number of expat families moving to China for secondments or long-term indefinite stays.
Many of these families are young and growing, resulting in an increasing number of expat couples looking to extend their families whilst living in China. Unfortunately, what many expats are unaware of is that their personal or company-supplied medical insurance may not offer maternity coverage, and that the maternity cover provided with social insurance is only suitable for the most basic of government hospitals which are not normally the hospitals of choice for expat residents. In this scenario, you would need to cover the costs of your delivery expenses personally.
Whilst individuals from certain countries may be used to the prospect of having to pay out of pocket for the birth of a child, an important aspect to consider is that the quality of maternity facilities in China essentially leaves you with two options for your pre-natal checks and delivering your baby – either cheap government hospitals (or local-style private hospitals) with a low standard of care and sanitation, or an international hospital with overseas-trained doctors and impeccable high-end facilities. The spectrum of fees between these two types of medical facilities could not be broader with Chinese government hospitals being amongst the cheapest in the world, and international private hospitals being amongst the most expensive.
Having a Baby in China
For those that do choose to have their baby at an international hospital in China, it is worth noting that the latest data available on childbirth statistics in China shows that the rate of c-section births is ever increasing, with most sources citing that c-section births account for between 47% - 55% of all births in mainland China. Bearing in mind that even the normal delivery fees can be quite expensive at certain facilities, it is crucial for anyone planning on extending their family to ensure that their maternity insurance includes full coverage for c-sections in order to avoid massive hospital bills.
Due to the discrepancy in the level of care compared to government hospitals, most expat couples do indeed go on to choose an international hospital for both medical and maternity needs. Once having discovered the cost of delivery and accommodation which can run into the tens of thousands of USD, and that a new insurance plan will not cover any expenses relating to an existing pregnancy, many are forced to spend money to fly back home and have their child there, or use a government facility which can put their newborn at risk.
According to The World Bank data, in 2013 the infant mortality rate in China equated to 11 per 1000 births which is more than double that of most developed western countries such as the UK, Australia, Canada, and the USA. To give a comparison of the region, the infant mortality rates in Japan and South Korea for the same year were 2 and 3 per 1000 births respectively. As such, many expat individuals and families will look to an international style hospital for their maternity needs as opposed to government or local style private hospitals.
Fortunately there are a range of private and corporate medical insurance products that include enough coverage to protect both your and your newborn, giving you the freedom to choose any hospital you like – Even outside of China, including your home country!
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