Shanghaiist has had a headache for days but we still won’t go to the hospital. Last week’s China Daily report on a RMB5.4 million medical bill for a 67–day hospitalization still has us a little paranoid. Seventy-five-year-old retired teacher Weng Wenhui, was diagnosed with lymphoma last year. He was sent to Harbin No 2 Hospital attached to Harbin Medical University in Heilongjiang Province on June 1. During a little more than two months in the hospital, Weng’s family paid RMB1.39 million for medical bill and more than RMB4 million for medicine, which was recommended by the hospital — Weng’s eldest son is a business man (a good one, we suppose) and paid most of the bill. Unfortunately this massive medical bill didn’t save Weng’s life, and he passed away on August 6 — but the hospital kept issuing bills. Weng’s widow, Fu Xiumei, keeps every bill issued by the hospital and now thinks her family paid too much.
The hospital set up a special team in mid-August to investigate the family’s allegations of malpractice. Team head Yang Hui said he had found no evidence of anyone doing anything wrong. Instead, the hospital actually gave special discount to the family by not taking enough money.
OK, we have heard calls for medical reform before, but this RMB5.4 million bill has us scared. What kind of medical reform did China actually have? The health department admitted the five-year medical reform was a failure in July (in Chinese), and then they denied this conclusion in October (in Chinese). Shanghaiist also heard health minister Gao Qiang minister mentioned yesterday (in Chinese) that the government monopoly over the health care system should be broken up, basic medical insurance should share half of the medical bill and cover 90 percent of the population.
That sounds a little better. But half of 5.4 million is still a lot.