Government to subsidize patients with EV71 virus

Updated: 2008-05-06 20:33

HEFEI  -- East China's Anhui Province will reimburse the medical costs of intestinal virus enterovirus 71 (EV71) patients who are covered by a public health insurance scheme, the local health authority said on Tuesday.

All the costs of medicines and treatments of patients who in a critical condition would be covered, according to an urgent circular co-released on Monday by the provincial health and finance departments.

Those who died of the virus or had already left hospital could get their money back, according to the circular.

Other insured patients diagnosed with the EV71 virus would receive refunds of 65 to 70 percent of their medical expenses, 15 percent more than the usual reimbursement.

The patients must have be covered by the national cooperative medical care system and the maximum medical cover is 50,000 yuan (7,100 US dollars), according to the circular.

The central government began to promote the cooperative medical care program in 2003. A farmer participant can pay 10 yuan a year, while the state, provincial, municipal and county governments jointly contribute 40 yuan for the cooperative fund.

Participants can get partial reimbursements (55 to 65 percent) for hospital expenses. Rates vary according to the illness and the hospital charges.

Special medicines and checkups which are necessary during diagnoses, including gamma globulin, will also be temporarily free of charge, said the circular.

In addition, Anhui's health administration appointed 115 special hospitals at city and county level on Monday to receive and treat EV71-infected patients.

Anhui is the worst-hit province in China in the recent outbreak of the hand-foot-mouth disease epidemic, with a total of 5,840 cases reported by Sunday. In Anhui's Fuyang City alone, 22 children have been killed and 4,496 infected by the disease since March 20.

The disease, in many cases triggered by the potentially fatal EV71, usually starts with a slight fever followed by blisters and ulcers in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. There is no vaccine.

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