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4 suburban hospitals adopt new pricing system

OFFICIALS of local hospitals said only 85 percent of their financial losses – due to a cut in medicine prices -- can be covered by raising service fees. The rest has to be made up for with government subsidies and improved hospital management.

From January 5, four leading Shanghai hospitals began selling medicines at purchasing prices through their new affiliates in suburban districts as part of the country's health care reform. All these new affiliates opened recently.

Previously, hospitals were allowed to sell medicines with a 15 percent price mark-up.

The government raised the prices of certain medical services and out-patient fees to help cover the losses and make the hospital pricing system better reflect the labor and skills of doctors and nurses.

The out-patient fee charged by a senior doctor has increased from 17 yuan to 50-75 yuan to discourage patients with minor illness from seeking expert treatment so that senior doctors can spend more time on those with serious symptoms.

"The rise in service fees has started to show effects," said Dr Zhao Ren, vice president of the new Jiading Branch of Ruijin Hospital.

But Dr Wang Zhiming, president of the Baoshan Branch of Huashan Hospital, is worried that the rising number of inpatients who consume a lot of medicines will become a financial burden for new hospitals.


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