Soaring medical expenses in recent years have become a serious problem in China's health care progress, which must be priority for all hospitals this year, Chinese Vice Health Minister Ma Xiaowei has said.
In the past eight years, total expenses at out-patient departments nationwide have increased by 1.3 times and the total expenses at in-patient departments have soared by 1.5 times. The annual average increase of medical expenses at both departments were 13 percent and 11 percent respectively, which exceeded the increase of people's income, said Ma at a working meeting on hospital management and control on Monday.
Currently, the average expenses of in-patient service in citiesis 7,600 yuan (US$927), while the urban citizens' annual average income is 6,500 yuan (US$793). In the rural areas, the average expenses of in-patient service is 2,400 yuan, which is almost the annual income of a farmer, he said.
"Patients not only expect a good hospital to cure their illness, but also hope they can afford the expenses and keep living," said Ma. "Hospitals are responsible to cut down medical expenses as well as to provide a good environment and service."
The ministry and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine has set this year as "year of hospital management and control" and jointly urged all hospitals nationwide to improve medical services to patients.
(Xinhua News Agency April 20, 2005)