The National Healthcare Security Administration recently announced a number of measures aimed at making dental implants more affordable, including capping medical service fees per tooth at tertiary public hospitals to under 4,500 yuan ($650).
Medical service expenditures of dental implantation, which currently stand around 6,000 to 9,000 yuan at public hospitals across the country, primarily contribute to the widespread impression that the procedure is expensive and overpriced, the administration said on Thursday.
"Based on suggestions solicited from the public, the majority agree that price regulation should be implemented to bring the fee into a reasonable range," it said, adding that some also advise taking into consideration the value of technical skills and risks involved in the process, as well as the scarcity of specialists.
While a general goal of lowering medical service fees to around 4,500 yuan has been set, the administration noted that more developed areas that see higher labor costs will be allowed to request a higher maximum limit based on local circumstances.
The administration is also planning provincial-level bulk procurement of medical consumables such as replacement teeth and crowns to reduce patients' financial burden.
For instance, high-end replacement teeth cost around 4,000 to 6,000 yuan per tooth, while a less costly tooth is priced at around 2,000 to 3,500 yuan at public hospitals.
With improving living conditions and a quickly aging society, the demand for dental implants in China has registered double-digit growth in recent years, the administration said.
It added that regional healthcare security authorities should also set up an alert system to detect irregular pricing of dental implants and expose institutions that stick to overpriced products or refuse to participate in bulk purchase programs.
The administration also said that these new pricing measures will be first and foremost enforced at public hospitals, but private institutions are also asked to charge reasonable prices that comply with market competition rules as well as expectations of the public.
Misleading promotional tactics such as using fake subsidies to swindle customers are strictly prohibited, and those committing such sales strategies will be exposed to the public.