The Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning said on Jan. 28 that Beijing saved about 6.7 billion yuan ($1.06 billion) on medical expenses since the separation of clinic from pharmacy in April 2017. As hierarchical medical care advances, the outpatient visits in large hospitals have decreased by over 10 percent, and 20 percent less patients are seeking appointments with experts. In the meantime, the outpatient visits have increased by 16 percent in community hospitals.
The recent report on the work of the municipal government highlighted the establishment of hierarchical medical system as this year’s primary task. Each district will build a compact medical treatment unit that strengthens primary medical care. Meanwhile, the reservation service will be improved to facilitate patients and crack down on scalpers. The Beijing Municipal government has also announced that, by 2020, it will provide at least three general medical practitioners and five rehabilitation nursing beds for every 10,000 residents, and help to raise the average life expectancy to 82.4 years old. By the end of 2017, a total of 251 community medical centers, or 75 percent of the total, had changed the payment method to paying after diagnosis and treatment, instead of paying upfront.
Since April 2017, more than 3,700 hospitals have eliminated the margins in sales on medication, according to the commission. The separation of clinic from pharmacy has propelled the establishment of hierarchical medical care, rendering 12 percent and 3 percent less outpatient/emergency visits to tertiary and secondary hospitals respectively, as well as 16 percent and 25 percent more visits to primary hospitals and community healthcare institutions respectively. The number of outpatient and emergency visits to medical experts has also decreased, making it easier for patients with real needs to make such appointments.
From Jan. 1, the city merged urban and rural medical insurance policies to become an integrated insurance policy for both urban and rural residents in Beijing. This expanded the number of medical institutions under insurance coverage to over 3,000. The hospital hierarchy is also helped by the new reimbursement system, which provides higher coverage for primary hospitals and below (55 percent) and lower coverage for secondary hospitals and above (50 percent). In addition, the new system standardized the insured categories of medication, medical service and medical facility for all the urban and rural residents, and expanded the types of medicine under coverage from 2,510 to more than 3,000.
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