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Chopper deal in the air, but costs still high (2)

By Zheng Xin  (China Daily)

10:52, November 15, 2011

With maintenance fees and salaries for pilots and other personnel, he said the company will not make any profit charging 25,000 yuan an hour. "The helicopters are there. We just want to make full use of them and help more people in need."

The 120 Emergency Center is also talking to the city's public security bureau about putting medical equipment on some of its helicopters, which would go some way toward providing a free airlift service.

"We should make full use of public resources," said Ma Yanming, spokesman of the Beijing Health Bureau, although he added that the biggest obstacle is the lack of comprehensive medical- insurance system.

As no insurance companies cover helicopter rescue, the expensive service is not available to many patients, Ma said.

The health bureau and Beijing Capital Airlines are both in negotiations with insurers to expand their policies to include the cost of airlifts.

Li at the 120 Center said it is important for China to come up with a complete medical-insurance system that makes airlift rescue cheaper.

"Due to the small demand in China, to involve the insurance companies in helicopter rescue will take time," he said. "The flight restrictions enforced within the Third Ring Road also remain an obstacle."

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