February 23, 2013 (TSR) – A total of 805 million people — 98 percent of the rural population — were covered by the rural medical insurance system by the end of 2012, Minister of Health Chen Zhu announced Thursday.
Under the new rural cooperative medical program, health funding for each countryside resident reached 300 yuan (48 U.S. dollars) last year, Chen said at a health work conference held in Beijing.
According to ministry statistics, 1.5 billion people received medical fee reimbursement through the program in 2012.
Hospital expenses added up to 24 percent of the annual per capita income of rural residents in 2012, while the figure was 28 percent in 2011, the ministry said.
More than 80 percent of rural areas have promoted payment method reforms. Also, measures have been taken to guarantee treatment for critical illnesses, with 990,000 patients receiving reimbursement for the treatment of serious diseases, the ministry said.
Chen said supervision over rural medical funds was strengthened in 2012, with criminal sanctions given to 22 people who committed crimes involving the medical insurance system.
According to Chen, the program is aiming to raise per capita health funding to 340 yuan in 2013.
The medical insurance system should also be enhanced to fully guarantee treatment for 20 serious diseases, such as child leukemia, Chen said.
Commercial insurance institutions are being encouraged to collaborate with the new rural cooperative medical program, with 15 yuan paid by each person to purchase insurance for critical illnesses, Chen added.
“Many problems exist in the medical insurance system, including poor services provided by local medical institutions and a lack of subsidies for rural doctors in some areas,” Chen said.
Chen urged improving training for local health workers, making greater efforts to support village doctors and strengthening medical institution examinations.
China introduces new medical “No Advance Deposit” payment method
A new pilot program has been introduced in certain regions of China, allowing people to receive treatment without having to pay an advance deposit.
Thanks to the new payment method, patients in public hospitals in Shandong province are enjoying a better health service.
Liu Bingyan, Patient, said, “I had my surgery before any payment to the hospital.”
But things were very different in the past.
Yang Yingxin, Doctor, People’S Hospital, Jinxiang County, said, “Before the trial program, an advance deposit was required before receiving treatment. Surgeries could be delayed two or three days, until the deposit was handed in. And in our profession, where even a small delay can mean the difference between life and death, this increased risk in medical emergencies.”
Under the new approach, patients, especially those suffering from extreme conditions, will receive treatment first. Following which, they will only pay the portion of the cost that is not included in their insurance. The rest will be paid by the government.
So far, more than 20 provincial regions are carrying out pilot programs for the new payment method.
However, there’s still a long way to go. The Ministry of Health noted on Tuesday that the new system would not be adopted nationwide in the short term, due to the country’s immature social credit system and insufficient medical insurances.
Pay-after medical payment system will not be adopted nationwide yet
Patients will be able to “pay after” they receive medical treatment as part of a new payment method, China’s Ministry of Health revealed Tuesday.
According to Jiao Yahui, an official with the MOH medical administration division, more than 20 provincial regions are carrying out pilot programs for this method in local hospitals.
In response to media reports that said the new payment system will be implemented across the country this year, Jiao said the ministry never gave such an “order.”
She said a “pay after” method will not be adopted nationwide in the short term due to an immature social credit system and insufficient medical insurance.
But the MOH advocates local governments to conduct pilot programs for this method if possible, she added.
Currently, Chinese citizens must pay first before receiving an operation or treatment.
Patients must pay their bills and then apply for a reimbursement covered by medical insurance, usually more than 70 percent of the total treatment fees.
In August 2011, there was nationwide public criticism after a nightshift doctor in central Hubei Province removed the stitches on the split tendons of a patient’s right hand as the patient did not have enough money to pay the medical fees.
Once the new system is implemented, patients, especially those suffering extreme conditions, will receive treatment first. After the treatment, patients will only pay the part that is not included in the medical insurance. The rest will be paid to hospitals by the government.
The “pay after” method was first tested in a hospital in Beijing in 2009 and was well received by patients, according to Jiao.
Pilot programs are generally going smoothly in many areas, but there are still some patients “disappearing” without paying treatment fees after leaving hospital, which has created risks for the hospitals.
If a runaway patient is covered by the country’s medical insurance, hospitals can get compensation from the government, but if they did not buy any medical insurance, the hospital will not be able to get the money back, said Jiao.
The system can only be promoted step by step. If local governments think it is feasible, then do it, Jiao added.