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Medical care is one of the primary concerns for people who move to a foreign country. By taking a few simple precautions and informing yourself about the available healthcare options, you can lead a healthy life in Shanghai.
Health Care Providers in Shanghai.
There are several medical and dental clinics catering to foreigners; in addition, many of the local hospitals have "foreigner units." There is, however, a wide range of variability in quality, expertise, and services offered. Ask friends and colleagues for their recommendations. Tour the facilities and ask about the education and experience of the physicians, the practice standards of the facility, the equipment, services and medications available (e.g. imported, joint-venture, and/or local medications), and the management of care. Once you have identified the health care provider you prefer, work with that provider to establish an emergency plan for you and your family. Also be sure that your choice of provider is known at your office and by your childcare provider. You may also want to consider evacuation insurance; there are several companies who offer this service.
Vaccinations, Immunizations, and Communicable Diseases.
Recommendations for vaccinations and immunizations vary by home country and by individual, depending on age, prior vaccination history, plans for travel around the region, expectations of sanitation conditions, and so on. Keep in mind that most published information on vaccinations is focused on tourists; recommendations may differ for people intending to live in the region. Hepatitis A and B, polio, tetanus, flu, chickenpox, typhoid, and rabies are some of the most commonly recommended, however, your healthcare provider will be able to recommend the vaccinations and immunizations that are right for you and your family.
Food and Water Safety.
Although water purity in Shanghai is improving, the quality varies throughout the city. Most expatriates use bottled distilled water for their household needs, which is available in 5 gallon ("water cooler") sized containers from several retailers who will deliver. Always use distilled water for drinking and ice cubes, and when cooking anything which absorbs water, such as pasta or rice. The commonly heard food safety refrain for tourists is: "Peel it, cook it, boil it, or forget it." This is also good tip for foreign residents in Shanghai to keep in mind; a higher level of caution must be taken than most of us were accustomed to in our home countries. Care should be taken with raw meat; it should be stored and handled separately from other food items and cooked fully. Raw fruits and vegetables that you will not be peeling should be treated either with a disinfectant solution like Milton or a strong salt concentrate for 30 minutes. Vegetables that are going to be thoroughly cooked should not need sterilizing, especially if they are being peeled first. Insects can be removed by immersion in a strong salt solution for about 10 minutes. For meals outside the home, choose the places you eat out carefully, following recommendations from friends or colleagues.
Staying Healthy in Shanghai.
Health is often an issue that people do not think about until they need care. Expatriates and other travelers often wait too long to visit the doctor or underestimate the seriousness of their illness, and could have had better outcomes with earlier treatment. The best thing you can do to ensure a healthy stay is to investigate your healthcare options before you become ill, and see your preferred physician when you feel ill. A little prevention and advanced planning will go a long way to ensuring a healthy stay in Shanghai.
I found this article on Shanghai Daily, but it seems the link is not longer working so I posted here.
NEARLY a third of yoga mats tested by the city’s quality watchdog were found to contain excessive plasticizer — a substance, typically a solvent, added to a synthetic resin to produce or promote flexibility and to reduce brittleness.
All the mats tested had emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), a major contributor to air pollution that also can cause harm to people’s health, authorities warned yesterday.
The Shanghai Quality and Technical Supervision Bureau tested 30 batches of yoga mats bought online as well as from actual stores and found nine batches had excessive phthalates, which can cause such effects as decrease of sperm, testicular cancer, liver and kidney damage, and increase the risk of breast cancer.
All of the 30 batches of yoga mats had VOC emission, according to the bureau.
People were likely to suffer from headache, vomiting, weakness, and convulsions when the concentration of VOC reaches a high level indoors, and the liver, kidney, brain and nervous system could also be harmed, doctors warned.
China has no specific standards set for yoga mats, and the inspection results were based on American standards and other relevant standards in China, according to the bureau, which did not reveal who had produced the tested yoga mats.
The bureau said it had forwarded the result to China’s top quality watchdog for consideration of setting a standard.
“Many people use yoga mats as camping mats or for children to play, and most businesses claimed their yoga mats are totally safe and eco-friendly, which misleads consumers,” said Shen Weimin, deputy director of the bureau.
“Yoga mats are not suitable to be used by children,” he said, adding people should put newly bought yoga mats in areas of good ventilation for several days before use.
The bureau has ordered yoga mat producers and outlets selling them to improve quality control and eliminate safety hazards.
Health insurance for expats living in Shanghai can get very expensive very fast. Let’s look at a few numbers.
Let’s say you are a family of 4 living in Shanghai, and you want to buy some comprehensive medical insurance that covers both inpatient and outpatient services. One leading international insurance provider offers coverage to Shanghai expats at 3 levels of service.
The mid-priced package provides hospitalization, outpatient services, health checks, emergency medical evacuation, and a variety of other features that expat families in Shanghai would care about. It does NOT cover the US, except for emergencies.
How much can you expect to pay for this kind of coverage?
If you were a single 34 year old living in Shanghai, your annual premiums would be just a bit over US $1500 (as of November 2012).
You first child would cost you an extra $700 or so, and your second child would add another $ 550.
So for the whole family, you can expect to shell out around US$ 4,250 for a year’s worth of comprehensive medical insurance in Shanghai. (Being in Shanghai will cost you around 10% more.) It’s worth it to have piece of mind – but even better if you can get your company to foot at least part of the bill!
BUT, you can lower your premiums significantly by opting for a “deductible” or “excess”. (US providers say deductible, UK and international say excess. Same thing.)
If you select a $100 deductible, then the first $100 in medical expenses each year are your responsibility, and you must pay out of your own pocket.
In the case of this fictional company, a $100 excess will save you around 5%, a $400 excess will cut your premium by 15%, and a $1,600 excess will save you 30%.
Every company is different, and you will have to sit down with an advisor to get the facts for your unique situation. But expats and international Chinese in Shanghai can expect to see these kinds of premiums for high-quality comprehensive medical insurance.
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