Foreign nationals who are confirmed or suspected of contracting the novel coronavirus on the Chinese mainland will be treated first before paying expenses out-of-pocket, according to a notification released by the National Healthcare Security Administration.
The policy is aimed at ensuring that all foreign patients will be immediately admitted to hospitals even if they are not enrolled in the country's basic health insurance, the administration said. The notification was jointly released with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Finance and the National Health Commission on Wednesday evening.
Some portion of the treatment fees will be billed to national or commercial insurance plans they may be enrolled in, and they will be responsible for paying for the remaining fees on their own.
Foreign nationals will also need to cover expenses incurred from medical observation at hospitals or centralized quarantine, the notification said.
It requires local governments to obtain and update information on novel coronavirus cases detected among foreigners in China, and appropriately handle treatment and medical payment in such cases. Significant problems must be quickly reported to higher authorities.
Though the majority of locally transmitted infections and imported cases in China are Chinese nationals, local authorities have also reported an increasing number of infections among foreign national communities.
In Guangzhou, Guangdong province, the local government launched a testing program covering 4,553 citizens of African countries this month. As of Monday, 111 Africans had tested positive for the virus, including 19 who had traveled from overseas and some asymptomatic cases, Deputy Mayor Chen Zhiying said on Monday, adding that they were all under treatment.
An official figure for foreign nationals contracting the novel coronavirus on the mainland was not available. A request made to the National Health Commission went unanswered on Friday.
As of April 6, the average cost for treating a hospitalized person with novel coronavirus was 21,500 yuan ($3,038). Each severe case had an average minimum cost of 150,000 yuan, with some critical cases reaching over 1 million yuan each in overall fees, according to Xiong Xianjun, head of the administration's medical service department.
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