Doctors' profit-making schemes criticized

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The profit-making tendencies of healthcare providers who drive up medical costs have come under renewed criticism - this time by a member of China's top political advisory body, who cited the sale of heart stents at highly inflated prices at Chinese hospitals.

"Hospitals buy a made-in-China heart stent for 3,000 yuan ($456), but sell it to patients for 27,000 yuan. They buy an imported one for 6,000 yuan, but sell it for 38,000 yuan," said Dong Xieliang, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Inflated prices are not limited to complex medical devices and procedures. People also complain that treatments for minor illnesses cost more than necessary, according to earlier reports.

"No matter what illness you have, doctors will ask you to take a CT scan first," an Internet user named "Taizhou 3138" said on Monday on Sina microblog, a popular Chinese site.

The main cause of high healthcare costs is that doctors are given too much leeway to write expensive prescriptions because of lax government supervision, Dong said.

Several other medical experts supported Dong's idea.

Zhao Ping, another CPPCC member and president of the Cancer Institute and Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said that doctors were underpaid for their work and skills. Thus some tried to make money by prescribing medicine with a big profit margin, China Youth Daily reported on Sunday.

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