Business / Markets

New surgery insurance finds few takers

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-14 07:11

"It will take time before the number of purchasers increases, thus lowering the price of the insurance and enhancing the amount of compensation."

Xu Xuemin, director of Anzhen Hospital's department of social work, an office that oversees the hospital's medical disputes, said only a small percentage of patients have purchased the insurance since it was introduced at the heart surgery department in November.

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Of those, many were challenging cases, increasing the likelihood of compensation payouts and lessening the profits for the insurance companies.

Xu said he is trying to make the insurance available to patients in "less risky" departments to keep the program going.

Li Zhiyuan, assistant director of Fuwai Hospital, the first hospital in the city to design an insurance plan that covers surgical risks other than medical malpractice, said it is "totally understandable" that the number of buyers would be low at first.

Fuwai Hospital, which specializes in treating cardiovascular disease, designed an insurance plan to cover risks in its heart surgery cases as early as in 2003.

"When we first launched the insurance, the purchase rate stayed at 10 to 20 percent. It was pretty tough. It took six months before it reached about 80 percent and stayed there," Li said.

"First, the insurance plans should be designed properly to both solve patients' problems and suit the condition of the hospital. Second, an insurance company needs to prepare for possible losses when people are not aware of the importance of warding off surgical risks. Third, the hospital should let patients know how they can benefit from the insurance through active communication," he said.

"The death rate of heart surgery cases conducted by Fuwai Hospital has been under 1 percent for seven consecutive years, which ranks among the best, even in the world. But the risk that someone will die in a heart surgery case does exist."

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