China spends $2,395 on average for each COVID-19 patient

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/29 15:28:40

The last confirmed COVID-19 patient (center) in South China's Hainan Province walks out of quarantine zone in Hainan Provincial People's Hospital after recovery on Tuesday. The province has seen 33 consecutive days of zero growth in new infections. Photo: cnsphoto

China spends an average of 17,000 yuan ($2,400) on each COVID-19 patient, 65 percent of the cost is covered by the country's healthcare system while the rest is subsidized by local governments, said a senior health official over the weekend..

By March 15, confirmed and suspected patients in China had cleared 93,238 medical bills worth a total of 1 billion yuan, as some people visited a clinic more than once. Roughly 65 percent of the cost was paid via the healthcare system, Xiong Xianjun, a senior official from the National Healthcare Security Administration, told media. 

Some 44,189 confirmed COVID-19 patients had 65 percent of their bills covered by healthcare system and 35 percent by local government funds. It cost an average of 17,000 yuan on each patient, Xiong said.

The healthcare system had allocated 19.3 billion yuan to medical institutes across the country to ease the pressure of advance payment. Some 3.7 billion yuan went to Central China's Hubei Province that was hit hardest by the outbreak of the COVID-19. 

China in early February announced that local government funds would cover the out-of-pocket part of the treatment costs for patients with novel coronavirus infections. 

Drugs and services included in the national treatment plan, such as the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines, which cost 60,000-100,000 yuan per day once activated, are all covered by the budget no matter whether they were in the medical security coverage or not before the epidemic, according to Xiong.  Netizens heatedly discussed the expenditure. Some said that the average bill is low as most of China's COVID-19 patients had mild symptoms. Some others noted that the usage of traditional Chinese medicines is also part of the reasons as these medicines are cheaper than imported medicines.     

Some compares the expenditure to that in the US, which is a total different story. The medical bill for a US citizen infected with the novel coronavirus varied case by case, depending on whether the patient was insured and how serious the patient's symptoms were, according to a Wall Street Journal report on March 22. 

For people in employer-based health insurance plans, the total cost for treating pneumonia with major complications exceeded $20,000 on average, and out-of-pocket costs for the patient was about $1,300 on average. Without any complications or comorbidities, the average cost was $9,763, with an average charge to the patient of $1,464, read the Wall Street Journal report.

People enrolled in Medicare do not need to pay for the nucleic acid tests for COVID-19, but once they are confirmed with the disease, they will have to spend roughly the same amount of out-of-pocket money as employer-based plan enrollees for treatment. People under Medicaid have few out-of-pocket costs. 

Nearly half of US people are covered by employer-based medical insurance. About 20 percent had Medicaid, while 14 percent had Medicare. About 9 percent of its population, or 27 million US citizens, are not insured, according to US media reports. 

Global Times


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