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The Essential Guide to Healthcare in Shanghai

Healthcare 101: SmSh breaks down healthcare providers in Shanghai from emergency rooms to orthodontists, to make it all just a little less scary.
Last updated: 2018-03-01

1. Hospitals

Shanghai has a lot on offer in terms of shiny new clinics, the main options you have here include: International Hospitals, Local Hospitals, and VIP Clinics within Local Hospitals that were created to serve the expat population.


International Hospitals

International Hospitals are clinics established by foreign entities. Here languages and specialties vary depending on a rotating staff of doctors and healthcare professionals. Apart from clear communication, big perks include the ability to make appointments with preferred doctors and the kind of bedside manner you may be accustomed to in your native country. On average, doctors spend about 20-30 minutes with patients for consultations.

International Hospitals are typically smaller clinics. It is not the norm to provide emergency services; this is often outsourced to partner hospitals.

Facilities tend to be extremely nice —like could-be-a-hotel nice— but this comes with a price tag, with services costing about twice as much as those provided by a VIP Clinic, and five times that of a Local Hospital. On the other hand, if you have insurance that covers you in China, it will likely be accepted here. These private clinics operate on a fee for service basis, meaning your bill is prepared the day of your visit and you pay the deductible — what's not covered. Most clinics partner with nearly all international insurance providers, but it’s a good idea to check your chosen hospital’s site to ensure they accept yours.

Shanghai United offers 24/7 emergency services for adults and kids. Average consultation costs range from 1,500rmb-2,000rmb for services including Dental, Pre/postnatal care, Sports Medicine, and more. Insurance info here. ParkwayHealth is another big-name clinic; in addition to general medicine services include: Dentistry, Gynecology, Pediatrics, and more — but no emergency services. Average consultation costs range from 699rmb-2,199rmb. Insurance partners are listed here. Jiahui Health is on the reasonable side for an international hospital, 300rmb-1,000rmb on average for a consultation, and also the most hotel-like. When you enter the lobby it looks like you're in the Hyatt on the Bund. There are English speaking butlers in the lobby, but alas, no emergency services.

Pro Tip: Even in the midst of an emergency The Shanghai Call Center is a good resource for helping you find the nearest hospital with an ER.


Local Hospitals

Local Hospitals are the fiscally responsible option, with consultations starting as low as 30rmb. These hospitals receive rankings from the government (from 1 to 3 based on size and "C" to "A" based on equipment and quality of care, with "A" being the best); you want to stick to the 3A hospitals and there are some great options in teaching hospitals. Another plus is all state-owned hospitals are required to provide 24/7 emergency services, including on public holidays. The downside here is international insurance will not be accepted, the hospitals can be quite crowded, and there's little support for patients who cannot speak Chinese (though bigger local hospitals like those mentioned below will likely have some English speaking doctors and staff).

There are 3 tiers in terms of cost: International Hospitals, VIP Clinics, and Local Hospitals

In the last few years there have been some developments on systems to make appointments, however, most of these require a Chinese ID number. So, for expats visiting a local hospital, you'll be taking a number upon arrival and waiting. It's worth noting that Chinese hospitals have been making international news lately; some have got cutting-edge technology, and a lot of funding due to the sheer volume of patients they process. If you can speak a little Chinese, it's an option; below's a list of top ranked hospitals.

Huashan Hospital one of Shanghai's biggest hospitals, specializing in neurological conditions as well as dermatology and orthopedics. Average consultation costs range from 38rmb-318rmb. Also offers a VIP clinic. Ruijin Hospital has a full ER and ICU, which we've heard is quite easy to access, and quite affordable at 90rmb-300rmb. They also have an international clinic which is, again anecdotally, not so great (see "VIP Clinics" section). They specialize in Hematology, Burn Treatment, Endocrinology, and Infectious Diseases. Zhongshan Hospital is associated with Fudan University and has been around in Shanghai (under different names and ownership) since 1937. Prices range from 30rmb-300rmb. They've also got themselves a VIP Clinic, and Zhongshan is a leading hospital for liver transplantation nationwide. They're known for treatment of liver cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Pro Tip: For those in the Jing’an Area, Huadong is a 3A hospital at the same level of quality of Huashan, but it’s not nearly as crowded. They have a VIP section that also provides STD testing.


VIP Clinics

VIP Clinics are International Divisions within Local Hospitals that aim to provide an alternative to International Hospitals, with English speaking staff and, in some, the capacity to accept appointments. These clinics are the medium price point between Local and International Hospitals and all Local Hospitals listed here offer VIP clinics at their facilities. But choose wisely: there are a handful of reported VIP fake outs, where you pay more for VIP services and the only difference in care is the price tag. This happened to SmSh staff at Ruijin Hospital. Still, there are good ones and they can tap into the resources of the larger hospital; Huashan's VIP clinic is recommended.

Ambulance 救护车 (Jiu hu che): To call an ambulance dial 120. All are provided by the government, specifically the Shanghai Emergency Medical Response Center, and cost 7rmb per mile from the fourth mile, 80rmb per hour for waiting, and the emergency fee is 60rmb, which you must pay in cash when you are dropped off. Know the name of your chosen hospital and its address in Chinese, otherwise you’ll be transported to the closest local hospital. In some cases, it is more efficient to take a taxi if you're not in a precarious position (i.e. bleeding to death).


For a full listing of facilities refer to the "Hospitals" tab in the Health Directory.

* Shanghai

2. Dentists

Dentists are easy to come by in Shanghai, which is home to some really great clinics for every budget. Simple procedures range anywhere from about 80rmb-1,00rmb. Virtually all of the International and Local Hospitals offer dental care and there are stand alone clinics, which offer services from routine cleanings to braces to dental surgery. Be cautious: some places can get really expensive, i.e. PureSmile Orthodontics & Dentistry which has two price points for cleanings; foreign doctors cost 1,050rmb, almost twice as much as Chinese or Filipino doctors at 600rmb. Getting braces here will also cost a pretty penny, about 30,000rmb-55,000rmb.

Arrail Dental the biggest dental chain in Shanghai and has over 40 clinics across tier one cities in China. They provide services from routine cleanings for kids and adults starting at 500rmb to dental surgery. Tokushinkai Dental is a Japanese transplant with two clinics in Shanghai, the facilities are nice and receptionists and dentists speak English. On the first visit you pay a fee of 120rmb, then the cleaning cost is 380rmb, bringing the visit to a total of 500rmb, after that cleanings are 400rmb.

Pro Tip: People's Liberation Hospital No. 85, near people's square, is a local hospital that provides cheap dental services that are pretty decent. At most you'll pay is 300rmb.


For a full listing of facilities refer to the "Dentists" tab in the Health Directory.

* Shanghai

3. Baby & Children

Prenatal packages for monthly check-ups, including ultrasounds, cost around 15,000rmb-25,000rmb from 12-25 weeks. These also cover check-ups after delivery, and some international hospitals also throw in prenatal classes. Delivery is sold separately, ranging from 45,000rmb-70,000rmb for a vaginal delivery to 70,000rmb-100,000rmb for c-sections. In some cases, births happen at partner hospitals. American-Sino for example, does deliveries at Huashan Hospital.

Most insurance providers require coverage to be purchased a full year before benefits kick in for pre/postnatal care and delivery coverage. That generally costs 30,000rmb-50,000rmb per year.

Postnatal vaccinations that kids need for their first four years are typically not covered by insurance; you'll have to purchase a package or pay as you go. It's important here to consider future plans (if you're moving your family back to Canada you should think about getting shots your kids will need to enter school there), but your kid(s) can always get boosters later and go for more cost effective Chinese shots at local hospitals and clinics now. Necessary shots usually cost about 7,000rmb each or you can buy vaccination packages for about 20,000rmb. Pediatric care is available at almost all International Hospitals, offering medical care for infants, children, and adolescents; there are also specialized clinics for postnatal and pediatric care.

American-Sino Women & Children Hospital is a popular choice for Shanghai families and expats; prenatal packages start at 850rmb and birth options range from 45,000rmb-70,000rmb. (RedLeaf Women & Children's Hospital operates here on the 4th floor for the time being until their new hospital opens). Ferguson Women's Health is focused on prenatal care for women, offering gynecology, delivery, and postpartum recovery services, as well as fertility services. Prenatal packages range from 15,000rmb-25,000rmb and birthing options 70,000rmb-90,000rmb. Shanghai Family United and Parkway are two international hospitals which offer pre/postnatal care and pediatrics.


For a full listing of facilities refer to the "Baby & Children" tab in the Health Directory.

* Shanghai

4. Mental Health

Mental Health covers therapy in various forms from cognitive behavioral to psychodynamic. A SmSh article from September 2017 on finding the right therapist is a good resource to learn more about the mental health professionals available in Shanghai. Click here to read that, including a short list of therapists: one from Parkway and two who have independent practices. The Community Center Shanghai provides counseling in three of its locations but this can get pretty expensive at around 1,000rmb per hour. The Shanghai Mental Health Association is another resource for finding help, it's an association of therapists and practicing mental health professionals that are committed to matching skill sets to those seeking help. Also, Living Room By Octave offers therapy, including family therapy. If you are in crisis, there's always the volunteer-run Lifeline Shanghai.

From the previous guide on getting insured and finding a therapist, Pacific Prime as a broker and GeoBlue (also known as HTH) as an insurer was recommended, which covers up to 40 visits with a therapist per year and 75% of psychologist visits.


For a full listing of facilities refer to the "Mental Health" tab in the Health Directory.

* Shanghai

5. Health & Wellness

Health and Wellness includes big fitness centers and boutique studios (yoga, pilates, dance, and more) so you can find the workout you'll stick to. There's a lot offered in Shanghai, and it can be pricey, with the average studio class running 100rmb-200rmb per session. But you can find cheap options in annual contracts at big chain fitness studios like Will's or Physical. Find gyms, studios, and pricing listed here, or check out the round up of new gyms that popped up this year. Outside of a handful of International Hospitals, spaces focused on Nutrition, include Holistic Health Coach, Elizabeth Schieffelin's Lizzy's All Natural, which apart from selling smoothies holds workshops on healthy habits, kombucha making, and more. There's also no shortage of Spa and Massage options in Shanghai, which can range in price from about 200rmb to about 1,500rmb if you visit the fancy hotel spas.

Subconscious Day Spa a chain best known for its massages but also does facials, nails, and waxing ranging from about 400rmb-600rmb. They also offer studio classes. Micang Beauty is a new two-table spa focused on facials, a 60-minute treatment costs 498rmb, in about the same range of chains like DragonFly, but for first time clients 298rmb; check out all spa listings here.

Pro Tip: A lot of gyms and studios offer free trial classes, especially when they're new. You can keep up with all gym openings and discounts on the SmSh bi-weekly column Active Shanghai.


For a full listing of facilities refer to the "Health & Wellness" tab in the Health Directory.

* Shanghai

6. Specialized Clinics

Eye Doctors (Ophthalmologists) are everywhere in Shanghai. At Huashan's VIP clinic you can get an eye exam, prescription, and eye drops for 650rmb. Call ahead for an appointment. There are also clinics that specialize in eye-care like EuroEyes and LensCrafter, or if you want to get real adventurous there’s the Glasses Market, where you can find cheap options for around 200rmb-300rmb including an on-the-spot eye exam. Sexual Health is something to keep in mind when looking for love in Shanghai. Shanghai Skin Disease and STD Clinic is a good place to get tested on the cheap. SmSh did an article on it here. Costs about 250rmb, and an additional 400rmb for HPV and Herpes test. It's a Chinese public hospital; note that many international insurance coverage plans do not cover sexually transmitted diseases, so if you go to an international hospital for this you'll be left with a big bill (around 1,500rmb).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is offered in one form or another in most spas as well as some international hospitals like Parkway, but there are also clinics dedicated to TCM like here.


For a full listing of facilities refer to the "Specialized Clinics" section in the Health Directory.

* Shanghai

7. Insurance

Insurance is... really important. You should ensure (yes!) that you have the most basic or in-patient coverage, in case you have to be admitted to a hospital. For one healthy individual, this can range from 5,500rmb to 20,000rmb annually. Out-patient coverage is pretty much everything else and makes up the majority of insurance claims; this adds an additional 80-150% of the in-patient premium.

Get Covered: And no, you can't use travel insurance once you become a resident. Also, consider additional fees (for maternity, dental, mental health coverage). Here's a guide to health insurance in China that covers all that.


For a full listing of insurance providers refer to the "Insurance" tab in the Health Directory. ***

Check out our Health Directory for up-to-date information on every major hospital and clinic in Shanghai, as well as more articles on health-related topics like how to get health insurance and where to get a check-up.