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New Rule to Cut Patients' Expenses
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Shenzhen City's health bureau has vowed to cut doctors' bonuses if medical expenses of patients exceed quotas set by it, according to a regulation announced over the weekend.


The bureau will set ceilings for the per capita medical expenses incurred by both outpatients and inpatients later this year. If a hospital's per capita medical costs surpass the ceilings, the bureau will fine the doctors and nurses there, according to the regulation, which applies exclusively to government-sponsored hospitals.


The per capita medical cost for outpatients was 138.2 yuan (US$17) last year in Shenzhen, up 5.3 percent from 2004. The per capita medical cost for inpatients, however, dropped 0.3 percent last year to 5,221 yuan, the first decline in recent years.


Wang Keping, an official with the Shenzhen People's Hospital, said the regulation was "acceptable." Per capita medical cost of inpatients at the Shenzhen People's Hospital dropped by 14.9 percent last year, although the per capita outpatient cost increased by 1.58 percent there.


There had been similar regulations controlling medical costs in the past, but those regulations did not tie excessive medical costs to doctors' incomes, Wang said.


Another doctor who declined to be named said the fine should not be "too high." "The incomes of doctors are not as high as people imagined," he said. An anesthetist with the Luohu District People's Hospital with four years' working experience, he earns about 5,000 yuan a month.


Doctors' income should be independent from the incomes of their clinics, according to the regulation, which also requires hospitals to hand over profits from medicine sales to the government.


(Shenzhen Daily April 10, 2006)

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