Public hospitals in China have been reforming the price system since 2012, which aims at breaking their dependence on selling unnecessary medicines.
According to the reform plan issued by the National Development and Reform Commission, price of medicines in public hospitals should not be higher than their purchase price.
In addition, price of some medical services that require human capital, such as diagnosing, operation and nursing, will be raised, while some medical examinations which depend on machines will be cheaper.
Till now, all county-level hospitals in 29 provincial regions have conducted the reform. City hospitals in eight provincial regions, including Shandong, Shanghai, Qinghai and Tianjin, have begun it.
For a long time, medicine and medical examination profit has been the major source of income for public hospitals. It encourages hospitals to sell many unnecessary expensive medicines and medical examinations to patients.
After the reform, doctors’ income has risen. For example, medical staff’s income in county-level hospitals in Heilongjiang, Qinghai and Jilin provinces has increased 30 percent, 20.4 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, “patients’ burden is not heavier,” said Zhu Dezheng, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission. He said the reason is that public medical insurance has made up for the rise in medical services’ price.
However, investigation shows that the reform has not been implemented firmly in some regions. Problem of overtreatment still exists. “It is difficult to overhaul the long-standing unreasonable system quickly,” said Rao Keqin, an expert with the Chinese Medical Association.
According to Zhu Dezheng, pricing reform in hospitals is not enough. Reforms in other fields including health insurance, hospital management and hospital fiscal system should also be launched to resolve the existing problem.