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Hospital supervisor targets online scalpers

By Jiang Yabin (Global Times)

10:12, May 22, 2013

E-commerce giant and the organization that oversees Shanghai's hospitals have shut down 10 online shops this month selling doctors' appointments as part of a campaign to crack down on scalping over the Internet, local media reported Tuesday.

The Shanghai Shenkang Hospital Development Center and have closed more than 1,500 accounts belonging to appointment scalpers since the middle of last year, according to a report in the Oriental Morning Post.

Although the center has set up two websites that allow patients to make appointments with doctors at 35 public hospitals, appointment scalping has remained prevalent in the city.

The scalpers work by securing appointments with sought-after specialists, often by waiting in line at local hospitals each day. Some scalpers use multiple State identification cards to make the reservations, which they then sell online or in person standing outside the hospitals.

Scalpers can sell appointments to see famous specialists for as much as 500 yuan ($82) a piece, said an employee with the Shanghai Shenkang Hospital Development Center, who asked not to be named.

To discourage the practice, hospitals have asked patients to make appointments with their ID cards. However, scalpers have taken advantage of loopholes in the system to maintain their illicit trade. For example, local patients only need to present their IDs if they want to use their government-run health insurance to cover the visit. Patients from outside Shanghai or those willing to pay out of pocket can simply use scalpers' names when they show up for their appointments.

For some patients, scalpers offer the convenience of a same-day appointment without waiting in line. The official websites require patients to make their appointments at least one day in advance. Other patients employ scalpers because they are unaware of the websites.

In conjunction with the crackdown, has added a function that allows users to make appointments to see more than 70,000 doctors in 18 cities and provinces, including Beijing and Shanghai, according to a report in the Beijing Times. The function can be found at

Patients in Shanghai can also make appointments through the websites run by the Shanghai Shenkang Hospital Development Center, which can be found at and

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