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Country plans new system for patients to pay after treatment

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-02-20 03:08

Patients will be able to pay after they receive medical treatment as part of a new payment plan, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

According to Jiao Yahui, an official with the ministry's medical administration division, more than 20 provincial regions are carrying out pilot programs for this plan 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 the pay-after approach will not be adopted nationwide in the short term due to an immature social credit system and insufficient medical insurance.

But the ministry advocates local governments conduct pilot programs for this plan if possible, she added.

Currently, 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 treatment fees.

In August 2011, there was nationwide public criticism after a nightshift doctor in Hubei province removed the stitches on the split tendons of a patient's right hand because 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 proposed plan was first tested in a hospital in Beijing in 2009 and was well received by patients, Jiao said.

Pilot programs are generally going smoothly in many areas, but there are still some patients "disappearing" without paying treatment fees after leaving the 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, Jiao said.

The system can only be promoted step by step. If local governments think it is feasible, then do it, Jiao added.

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