Expat Focus International Healthcare Update December 2022
New platform for expats in Shanghai
China has been in the Western news lately, with unrest over Covid policies breaking out across the country. In Shanghai – a city which has been significantly affected by lockdowns – the Shanghai Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs has released an “Expat Guide: Work and Live in Shanghai,” on City News Service. The new platform offers advice on a range of factors affecting expat life, from dining to finance, but it also covers matters of healthcare, such as the health QR code. It also interprets healthcare policies, something which can be a minefield if you’re an expat who has recently relocated.
British expats ‘unhappy’ with the NHS
In the most recent InterNations survey, some surprising information came to light regarding British expats’ attitudes to their home nation. Respondents said that although the NHS was obviously affordable, they had problems accessing healthcare when back in the UK and that they found the quality of care unsatisfactory. One explanation for this negative response could be the fact that expats returning to the UK have private health insurance in their host nations, and the difference in standards is a factor.
Visa-related health screening for expats: new centre
A new centre for visa-related screenings for expats has opened in the Al Wahda Mall in Abu Dhabi, run by Seha (the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company). The centre is going to be open throughout the week, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can use the centre for both fast track and regular visa-related screenings, and it will operate on both a walk-in and an appointment basis.
Director of disease prevention and screening at Ambulatory Healthcare Services, Dr Khadija Al Marashda, said:
“We are proud to operate our new Visa Screening Centre in Al Wahda Mall, which is a distinctive addition to Ambulatory Healthcare Services’ network of 13 visa screening centres spread across the emirate, in addition to our visa screening mobile solution. Our first Centre in Mushrif Mall has gained a renowned reputation within the community as clients can have their visa screening done while enjoying shopping or while their children play, any day of the week and with extended operating hours. The new centre in Al Wahda Mall is spacious and easily accessible. It is located on the third floor of the mall’s new extension, opposite to [the] food court. We designed the client’s journey … in a way that provides them with the utmost comfort, as after registration they can enjoy their time in the mall until they receive an SMS that their turn is coming up.”
Healthcare network expands across Malaga
Healthcare network HM Hospitales has expanded its services across Malaga this winter, with the centres in the capital and the addition of the recently renovated HM Santa Elena International Hospital in Torremolinos. These institutions will be renamed: in Malaga, the CHIP Hospital will become the HM Hospital Malaga, the Hospital Dr Galvez will change to Hospital HM Galvez, and the Clinica del Pilar is going to be renamed to the Day Hospital HM El Pilar.
These hospitals, under the management of HM Hospitales, will offer over 30 medical specialist services, including:
- cardiology and cardiovascular surgery
- complex traumatology
- robotic surgery
HM CIOCC will become Spain’s first private oncology hospital.
HM Hospitales offer a specific service for expats: the “International Patient.” It has multi-lingual centres, including both hospitals and clinics.
Supplemental health insurance cover in the Czech Republic
The Health Minister, Vlastimil Válek, has told Czech television that he is investigating the possibility of introducing supplemental health insurance alongside existing state cover, similar to countries such as Germany and Switzerland. If this is introduced – and it must be stressed that this is currently very much at the discussion stage – it would not be until 2025/6.
“The implementation would have to be gradual and there must be total freedom. There shouldn’t be any worsening of the care…we have two options. Either raising taxes systematically and allocating the money to the healthcare system or enabling those who are interested in taking better care of themselves to take part in the preventive programs and use screening in the form of a bonus and, at the same time, in the form of supplemental health insurance.”
However, the President of the Czech Medical Chamber, Milan Kubek, and the healthcare unions have said that they do not like the new proposals and that revision of this nature would essentially lower the standard of care.
Thailand issues one-year ‘medical’ visas
Bloomberg reported in late November that the Thai authorities will begin issuing a new one-year medical visa. This is a somewhat misleading name, as journalists have pointed out – it’s actually for 90 days (if you want to stay for a year you will need to provide proof of further medical appointments), and it comes with a number of strings attached. Immigration authorities don’t want people coming to the country under false pretences, so you will need proof of a hospital appointment, proof of health insurance, Covid insurance and accident insurance, and evidence of funds: at least 800,000 baht (US$22,000).
The visa, which will come into effect from January 1st 2023, allows for multiple entries and will cost in the region of $140. Your chosen hospital will also need to provide the office of immigration with a treatment plan. However, part of the application process is the requirement to show that you need medical treatment for more than 90 days, so presumably everyone who applies will also have to apply for the extension mentioned above in the fullness of time. Whether this will discourage people entering the country for other reasons remains to seen: clearly some degree of clarification is required from the Thai authorities, who remain keen to see the nation become a hub for medical tourism. Deputy government spokeswoman Tipanan Sirichana says that up to three family members can be included on the new visa.
Currently, if you want to enter Thailand as a medical tourist, you can do so on a tourist visa or a non-immigrant visa.
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