Chinese government to foot medical bills till March

BEIJING: Patients needing treatment for COVID-19 will not have to foot pricey bills for hospitalization out of their own pockets until at least the end of March, according to authorities.
Additionally, outpatient costs will be more generously refunded if incurred at smaller hospitals serving vast rural areas, they added.
The policies were outlined in a circular released on Saturday by the National Healthcare Security Administration, the Ministry of Finance, the National Health Commission and the National Administration for Disease Prevention and Control.
For the last few years, the State has settled all expenses for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 at centralized isolation facilities. Payment liability issues were only brought to the fore early last month, when health authorities allowed patients to be treated at any hospital of their choice.
The circular said the State will continue to pay for hospitalization costs until at least March 31, as long as patients conform to the diagnosis and treatment plan for novel coronavirus infections, as COVID-19 has been officially known in China since Dec 26. The disease was previously called novel coronavirus pneumonia.
Hospitalization costs, usually incurred by older patients in critical condition, will be collectively paid by the national medical aid program for families in financial difficulty, local finance authorities, and two State-run healthcare plans with almost universal coverage on the mainland — basic medical insurance and insurance for severe illnesses. Central finance pledged it will give compensation of up to 60 percent of local finance payment liabilities.
However, the liabilities for outpatient spending vary.
The circular said that COVID-19 patients seeking medical advice at Grade 1 hospitals, or grassroots medical institutions such as township hospitals, will have at least 70 percent of their spending covered by the State, as part of an incentive for patients to avoid busier hospitals in major cities.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily news exchange item