Hospital bill shocks flu patient

08:45, December 17, 2009      

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Foreign students receive vaccination shots against the A(H1N1) flu at Tianjin University Wednesday. The city offers free shots for overseas students who voluntarily accept it. Photo: Xinhua

A Chongqing woman who gave birth to a baby is now in good health, one month after she was diagnosed with the A(H1N1) flu, China National Radio reported Wednesday.

But she became emotionally ill after she saw that the medical bill for her treatment was 170,000 yuan ($24,888).

On October 31, Yan Miao gave birth to a girl in a hospital in Chongqing.

She became ill and was transferred to the First Hospital Affiliated to Chongqing Medical University, where she was diagnosed with a serious case of A(H1N1).

She was discharged early this month and learned about the huge bill.

"One injection cost over 7,000 yuan," she was quoted as saying.

Weng Xinhua, of the Chinese Medical Association said the bill was reasonable.

"The virus will cause many complications including respiratory failure, which are very hard to treat," Weng told the Global Times.

But still, the family felt the stress. "In order to comfort me, my husband lied to me that a foundation promised to cover all the fees," she told a reporter.

But after leaving the hospital, she knew that there was no foundation and her family still owed 120,000 yuan to the hospital.

"I stay in Shanghai now. So I'm not sure whether I can get the reimbursement when I get back to Shanghai," she said.

However, the woman could turn to medical insurance.

In response to the call from the Global Times, a worker at the Shanghai Medical Insurance Inquiry hotline said patients who participates in the Basic Medical Insurance for Urban Employees in Shanghai are entitled to reimbursement.

In Yan's case, she could get about 140,000 yuan in reimbursement, and would only need to pay about 30,000 yuan.

Yan could not be reached Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health issued a notice in September stipulating that the fees for tests and treatment in A(H1N1) flu cases are covered by medical insurance. Patients can get reimbursed between 50 percent to 95 percent depending where they live.

In Chongqing, the ratio is 95 percent. While the Beijing Social Security Bureau said that medical insurance has covered fees on the A(H1N1) flu since November 1. Fees above 1,800 yuan may be slashed in half.

Deng Xiaohong, the spokesman at Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, said that a patient in critical condition could spend 70,000 to 80,000 yuan on treatment.

The government covered all flu-related expenses when the virus first appeared in China. But as the epidemic spread and it was deemed not be deadly, the Ministry of Health changed the policy in July and said the treatment would not be free.
However, some people complained about the change.

"The fees are so high that it would stop those living in poverty from going to a hospital for treatment, which is bad for the control of the disease," Kuang Jun, a worker in a private trading company in Hunan Province, told the Global Times.
Medical experts agreed that the government should help pay the bills.

"It's really a public health problem, the government ought to shoulder some medical fees. But how much cover needs further discussion and study," Weng said.

Source: Global Times
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