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February 25, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Shanghai opts for health reform with private aye

Shanghai will encourage the private sector to invest in public medical services.

The city will also support the opening of more privately owned medical institutions as part of its health care reform.

Public hospitals will provide general services only, while extra charges will be demanded for so-called privileged treatment, according to a plan awaiting public opinion and final approval by the city government.

The city's public hospitals now have 10 percent of their services designed for privileged patients. This practice will gradually be phased out under the plan.

In future, services offered by high-end medical institutions will cost more for patients who can afford them, according to the policy.

Higher charges for medical services but lower drug prices are also reform goals.

According to the plan, medical staff should enjoy a maximum 18 percent price increase for their professional services, including diagnosis, daily care and surgery, but charges for lab-equipment screening and treatment will be lower.

In addition, the gap between the market price for drugs and their sale price in hospitals will be gradually narrowed and finally closed, according to the new policy.

Only the 307 basic drugs on the state menu and several others added for the city's community medical services will be allowed to be sold at grassroots health care institutions without a price difference.

Public hospitals suffering losses as a result will be entitled to government subsidies or allowed to increase their service charges.

Recently, Health Minister Chen Zhu said the imbalance in the distribution of health care resources stood in the way of China pushing forward ambitious reforms in the sector.

The country needed to trainmore doctors and medical staffin grassroots organizations toaddress the challenges brought about by the shortage of medicalprofessionals, he said.

The government unveiled a three-year health care reform plan last April, saying it would lay a solid foundation for equitable and universal access to essential health care in China by 2020.

Under the 850 billion yuan (US$124.5 billion) plan for 2009 to 2011, the government promised universal access to basic health insurance, the introduction of an essential drug system, improved primary health care facilities, equitable access to basic public health services and reform of state-run hospitals.


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