Health insurance "bargaining": Every cent for life and health

2021-12-16 17:22 911

BEIJING, Dec. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- An interview with reporter Sun Wanlu from on China's Health insurance "bargaining":

3-year-olds are called toddlers who should be jumping around and creating trouble all over the place. But Songzi, a toddler born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), could not really "toddle" — even worse, sometimes she has to rely on a ventilator to breathe. SMA is a rare genetic disease that affects only 0.1-0.17‰ of children. But once the disease gets hold of you, it would be a life-long burden for both the ill child and the family. What's worse, Spinraza (nusinersen), the first effective medicine combating the illness, costs nearly 700 thousand yuan (about $100,000) per dose when it was first introduced. That is to say, each year an SMA family will spend more than two million yuan (over $310,000) on the child, and that's only for medication. But several days ago, some good news lit up the dilemma: Spinraza was added to the medicine catalog in China's healthcare insurance system. What's more, its price has plummeted to 33 thousand yuan (about $5,000) per dose.

This nosedive in price was by no means an easy feat. The official responsible for negotiating down the price succeeded after 8 rounds of arduous bargaining. With the price decrease plus healthcare insurance payments, a family would spend less than 100 thousand yuan (less than $15,000) on the medicine each year, and children like Songzi will have a greater chance at a happier childhood.

Patients suffering from rare diseases are never ignored, but larger groups are also not forgotten. My grandma has diabetes, for which she must take medicine every day to control her blood sugar levels. Several years ago, the medicine she took cost more than a dozen yuan (more than $2) per tablet. In 2019, after 5 rounds of negotiations by officials from the national healthcare system, the prescription drug was brought down to 4.36 yuan (about $0.6) per tablet. With medical insurance, patients like my grandma only need to pay less than 1 yuan per tablet. What's worth noting is that, in the last round of the bargaining, the price only reduced by a mere 0.04 yuan. To these officials, each cent mattered, all for the benefit of everyday citizens.

Despite the great pressure brought by COVID-19, China never stopped its efforts in improving its healthcare system. This year, 76 medicines were newly added to the healthcare insurance catalog. Medical treatment insurance coverage is also being improved. I also have some personal experience to share. In September, I had an eye surgery, but with medical insurance, it only cost me a meager 79 yuan. Hard to believe, right?

Of course, there is no system that is absolutely perfect. But as an ordinary citizen living in China, I have my life and health in safe hands. Seeing my country's non-stop efforts, I also hold a positive attitude towards the future. Think about it, aren't these efforts a type of respect for human rights in themselves?

China Mosaic

Health insurance "bargaining": Every cent for life and health

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