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April 21, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Hospital offers group discount on eye surgery

A HOSPITAL has sparked controversy by offering a group discount on Lasik eye surgery.

An advert hanging in front of Changzheng Hospital's eye department said each group needs to consist of 10 people with each person being charged 3,900 yuan (US$597). The usual charge for the procedure is 6,500 yuan.

Four people had the surgery, which corrects vision, after passing eye checks yesterday when at least 20 people went to the hospital for the group purchase. Since not everyone is suitable for Lasik surgery, those who qualify will still receive the discount even if others in the group do not.

Doctors at the hospital said they screen each person before surgery and every step is in line with regulations.

"The discount comes from a better use of medical resources," said Dr Wei Ruili, director of Changzheng's ophthalmology department.

"The top criteria for patients choosing a hospital for Lasik surgery is safety and quality, not the cost, which is not covered by the medical insurance fund," Wei added.

Officials from the Shanghai Health Bureau said authorities only set a maximum price for each medical service and that hospitals are free to charge anything under the maximum price. However, they cautioned that hospitals need to ensure surgery quality and the safety of patients regardless of the cost.

Dr Hu Ying from Shanghai Bright Eye Hospital said the group purchase offer could be a gimmick to attract patients.

"Safety and quality are the key," she said. "The price of Lasik surgery is usually around 5,000 yuan although the latest technology can cost more than 10,000 yuan. Prices differ according to machines and hospital quality."

Health services offered through group purchases are not new in the city as similar operations have been offered by private hospitals, which have fewer patients than state-owned ones.

Group purchases have been recently offered by some big hospitals in other provinces.


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