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Private hospital joins health service

SHANGHAI Rhine Hospital in Minhang District will be the first local private hospital to be included in the city's health service system later this month.

The change will allow patients to pay medical bills with their smart cards and their social health care fund that they pay into monthly.

Officials said the health reform trial was a win-win project as the government saved money by not having to build a new hospital, while Shanghai Rhine Hospital gained access to the medical insurance system and other policies to attract more patients as a non-profit hospital.

A non-profit hospital means that all profits are required to be reinvested into the hospital for such things as medical equipment or more doctors.

"Shanghai Rhine Hospital will become a district-level, comprehensive hospital specializing in traditional Chinese medicine," said Zhuo Guangsong, one of its officials. "It will be renamed Minhang Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and about 2 million nearby residents will benefit from the new hospital."

Xu Su, director of the Minhang District Health Bureau, said it was a new direction in health care reform.

"The biggest beneficiary is the public, who will receive good, convenient and inexpensive health care," Xu said.

A key problem in the domestic health care system was that the government was the only investor and operator of more than 90 percent of hospitals. The heavy burden impacted on medical development and service renovation. In Taiwan, more than 60 percent of hospitals were privately owned, officials said.

"Our health reform can introduce some social capital into the health system," Xu said. "Each district should have a TCM hospital, but it costs about 200 million yuan (US$29.21 million) to build such a hospital. After checking its qualifications, we decided to transfer Shanghai Rhine into a TCM hospital."

To support the new hospital, the government included it in the medical insurance system and gave it a personnel quota so that it could attract high-end medical experts.


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