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Hospital probed for exorbitant funeral fees

By YANG ZEKUN | China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-13 09:43
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Peking University Third Hospital said on Monday that it would actively cooperate with investigations from regulators and rectify its problems after an online post showed the hospital's morgue charging exorbitant funeral fees.

On April 8, a Beijing resident surnamed Deng told Beijing News Radio hotline that his wife died at home in February, and that he had temporarily stored his wife's body in the morgue of Peking University Third Hospital before cremation. However, he was charged 38,570 yuan ($6,050) for less than three days for using the morgue.

In another case, a woman surnamed Zheng said that her mother-in-law died in March at Peking University Third Hospital and her body was sent to the morgue. Three days later, Zheng was told to pay nearly 20,000 yuan.

The issue went viral online and triggered widespread criticism. Some netizens said that with such sky-high morgue fees people can't afford even to die.

According to a list of funeral service charges provided by Deng and posted online, Beijing Tiantang Xianghe Funeral Service, which has a contract with the hospital, charges for a wide range of items, including 5,990 yuan for spa services for corpses, such as massages and baths, 6,800 yuan for shrouds and 600 yuan for a meal offering.

Families of the dead are asked to pay in cash with no other payment options available such as WeChat payment, Alipay or bank card.

A preliminary investigation showed that Beijing Tiantang Xianghe Funeral Service is suspected of illegal pricing for funeral services, according to an April 10 post on the Weibo account of the Information Office of the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

A case will be filed and the law enforcement division of the Beijing Administration for Market Regulation will set up an investigation team to look into it, the post said.

On Monday, Peking University Third Hospital issued a statement promising to set up a team to actively cooperate with the relevant government departments and carry out in-depth investigations and rectify the problems as required.

Funeral services in Beijing are divided into basic funeral services and extended funeral services, according to a notice issued by the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau in 2018.

It said reference prices for funeral services will be set by the government, while the market can offer expanded services.

According to Deng, except for some services on the government's list of prices, the vast majority of the fees came from additional services.

Beijing Tiantang Xianghe Funeral Service was founded in March 2008, with a registered capital of 5 million yuan, according to Tianyancha, an enterprise information platform in China.

The company's bidding information showed that apart from Peking University Third Hospital, it also won the bids for mortuary service projects at Peking University Shougang Hospital in July 2021 and at Beijing Electric Power Hospital in October 2021.

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