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October 30, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Seniors fret over costs of health care

THE cost of health care has become the biggest concern among the city's seniors, according to a recent survey by the Shanghai Bureau of Statistics.

The bureau surveyed 2,229 people, of which 1,033 were seniors aged 60 or above.

About 60 percent of senior respondents said they are not satisfied with present medical treatment. The biggest problem is that they can't afford high medical costs.

"It's very common for me to spend more than 100 yuan (US$15) if I get a minor cold," said Chen Zhushan, a 70-year-old senior. "The prescribed medicine is always much more than I need. Doctors also usually give me unnecessary examinations to make as much money as possible."

Meanwhile, about 10 percent of the seniors complained about long hospital queues, the survey found.

"Every time I go to a hospital I spend the whole morning there," Chen said. "It's very exhausting."

Seniors also claimed that they were not able to get good treatment unless they bribed doctors.

Yu Aiying, 83, told Shanghai Daily about her late husband's experience in a hospital. Her husband was diagnosed with stomach bleeding last year, but several hospitals refused to admit him.

"They had beds available, but indicated we get one by some underhand means," Yu said.

Having no "relationship" in big hospitals and not being able to afford the "red envelope," Yu's husband had to stay in an inferior hospital with limited medicine and backward facilities, she said.

The old man died before long. "I didn't know what disease he caught until his death," Yu said.

A researcher with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Hu Suyun, who studies medical insurance for seniors, said that although the elderly only have to pay 10 percent for medicines included in the country's insurance system, doctors love to give drugs that are not included, thus pushing up costs.

Hu said at present there is no efficient way to solve the problem as hospitals have to cover expenses.


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