Hospital scalping crackdown not enough: experts

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CRI, January 30, 2016
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A new campaign against medical appointment scalping is underway in Beijing after video of a young girl denouncing outpatient appointment scalpers went viral this week.

Since then, a dozen people have been busted for illegally selling hospital appointments, including 7 at the Guang'anmen Hospital in Beijing where the video was shot.

Despite the new crackdown, officials in China's medical industry admit it's not going to be easy to root-out scalpers.

Huang Jinhui is with the city of Guangzhou's Healthcare Department.

He said: "The scalpers look no different from anyone else. So it's difficult to pick them out. On top of this, they will face no more than administrative detention if they're caught red-handed."

Under the current structure here in China, people from rural areas of the country have a difficult time gaining access to medical facilities in the country's major cities, as they won't be covered under the national medicare program, and will have to pay completely out-of-pocket.

As such, scalpers using local identification cards can book appointments and then sell them to people without the proper documentation.

Zhuang Yiqiang with the Chinese Hospital Association said the best way to eliminate this issue is to make the medical system in China more uniform.

"The fundamental reason behind the issue is not necessarily the scalping, but rather the low-quality of the medical system in the rural areas. If local hospitals were capable of offering better treatment, then patients wouldn't insist on travelling to a hospital in Beijing for treatment."

Of the 100 top-ranked hospitals across the country, 23 are located in Beijing, 20 are in Shanghai and 9 are in Guangdong province.

Liu Zhen with Guang'anmen Hospital in Beijing said this puts a huge amount of pressure on their staff.

"We have 400 doctors. However, the number of patients we see a day exceeds 11-thousand. Don't you think that we are overburdened?"

Also among the busiest hospitals in the capital is Beijing Children's Hospital.

That facility has seen its yearly patient numbers increase from 2.3 million in 2011 to close to 3.4 million in 2014.

Liu Guo'en with the State Council's Health Care System Reform Advisory Committee said this is something they're working on addressing.

"Apart from consistent crackdowns on scalpers, we're also trying to step up the reforms in the country's medicare system. As there are only around 5 hospital beds for every 1-thousand people in China, which is an even higher ratio than in the US, it’s urgent that we try to convince people to see doctors at community-level clinics, particularly if they are not critically ill."

A national real-name medical appointment booking system is being worked on.

The system was first introduced in Beijing's hospitals in 2011.

However, it's not linked with the country's national ID database.

This makes it easy for scalpers to book an appointment using a fake ID card.

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