Luo Wangshu Cao Yin
who enroll in China’s social insurance program are eligible to receive benefits in five categories — medical, retirement, work injury, unemployment and maternity — just like their Chinese counterparts.
Employees pay about 10 percent of their total monthly income to the program, while their employers contribute 33 to 40 percent of the monthly contribution.
Confusingly, though, the regulations and implementation, including monthly deductions, vary from place to place according to the priorities of the local government.
In Beijing, for example, a foreigner earning a monthly salary of more than 15,669 yuan ($2,590), pays 1,286 yuan a month, while their employer pays 5,610 yuan. However, in Chongqing, an expat on a monthly wage of more than 11,349 yuan pays 1,137 yuan and the employer pays 3,745 yuan to 4,549 yuan. International practice
Germany, South Korea and Denmark have all signed bilateral social insurance agreements with China, meaning people from those countries don’t have to make contributions in both countries.
Xi Heng, a professor of social insurance at Northwest University in Xi’an, said it’s common international practice for expats to be covered by the social insurance system of the host country.
Xu Yanjun, an official from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said that it’s usual for expats to be covered this way because it helps to protect their rights.
Although she has doubts about its implementation, Jacquin welcomed the policy. “It’s a very good thing that the Chinese government is pushing and building the social insurance system, treating expats the same as Chinese and aiming to provide safety and security for workers from overseas.”
Jacquin described the system as aggressive, but often ineffectual. “The concept is great, but the policy lacks clear guidance for implementation.” A lack of guidance
Liu Dongsheng, from the Chongqing human resources and
In theory, I should be able to use my social insurance card at a hospital for large problems, but I don’t think it covers small visits. No one has really explained exactly what I can and cannot
use it for.” MICHAEL STANDAERT JOURNALIST IN SHENZHEN, GUANGDONG PROVINCE
social insurance bureau, conceded that implementation lacks clear, detailed guidance.
“For example, the pension can only be collected by foreigners who’ve worked in China for more than 15 years, but most expats only work here for a short time. Even those who have worked in China for the specified time are vague about how to collect their pension,” he said.
Jacquin also questioned the policy, saying it’s unfair to expats who work in China for short periods of time.
Others were concerned about unemployment and maternity benefits. Julia, a foreign worker in Beijing who would only give her first name, doesn’t have social insurance and has no plans to enroll.
“I don’t see the benefit,” said the 29-year-old. “For example, my work visa is tied to my job. Once I become unemployed, I have to leave the country, so how can I collect the money?”
She was also unsure about the scale of maternity insurance and wondered if her cover will still be valid if she has more than one child.
Journalist Michael Standaert enrolled in the social insurance program in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. “In theory, I should be able to use my social insurance card at a hospital for large problems, but I don’t think it covers small visits. No one has really explained exactly what I can and cannot use it for,” he wrote in an e-mail. He said he hasn’t visited the hospital since he obtained the card.
In addition to the State program, Standaert began paying for private health insurance in 2012.
Other expats questioned the value of the medical insurance, saying the cover is useless for non-Chinese speakers.