City making medical services more convenient

Yang Meiping
Shanghai Health Care Security Administration' latest moves are making it possible for patients to use their medical insurance cards on ambulances and streamlining reimbursements.
Yang Meiping

Shanghai is making medical services more convenient for local residents and those in the Yangtze River Delta region, the city's health care security administration head said on Monday.

One of its latest efforts is to make it possible for patients to use their medical insurance cards on ambulances.

Currently, people need to pay ambulance and emergency rescue services and then apply for reimbursement from the medical insurance system.

Xia Kejia, director of the Shanghai Health Care Security Administration, said the administration handled 200,000 applications for reimbursements last year, about a quarter of the total matters dealt with.

"We are working together with the Shanghai Medical Emergency Center to enable patients to pay for services on ambulances directly with their medical insurance cards or the e-version cards on their mobile phones, so that they don't have to bother about reimbursement afterward," said Xia.

The process for reimbursement of medical costs has also been streamlined.

On June 12 last year, the administration launched a medical cost reimbursement service channel on the Government Online-Offline Shanghai portal, a one-stop platform for government services featuring improved efficiency with data shared among different government departments. Via the new channel, patients can apply for reimbursement online with photos of required material submitted, and paper versions can be submitted via courier service. Material required has been reduced from 44 items to 12 and the whole process shortened from 30 workdays to three.

Xia said the administration is working with other government institutions, including the city's big data center, to make reimbursement more convenient in the second half of the year.

"We're now promoting the use of digital bills for medical services, so that patients only have to submit the bill numbers and sums of money involved when applying for reimbursement as the system can draw detailed information from the big data," he said. "The whole process will be paper-less and convenient."

The administration will also cooperate with Shanghai General Trade Union to share information so that patients can apply for reimbursement from the medical insurance system and the union's in-patient insurance program for employees at the same time.

Xia said digital services will be expanded to the Yangtze River Delta region as part of the city's efforts to implement the regional integrated development strategy.

"We are aiming to make several improvements by the end of the year," he said. "By then, people can apply to transfer their medical insurance accounts to other places in the delta region via the Internet. We can pay for services with medical insurance cards directly at any Internet hospitals in the region, instead of only local ones. People in the region can all use e-versions of their medical insurance cards with their mobile phones so that they don't have to bring along the physical cards when visiting hospitals, which has been achieved in Shanghai."

In 2019, Shanghai took the lead in the country to allow people from other places to use their medical insurance cards to pay for outpatient medical services in local hospitals, and the practice has been expanded to more than 8,200 hospitals and clinics in 41 cities in the Yangtze River Delta region, for both outpatient and inpatient services, Xia said.

"By the end of April, people in the region have made about 3.98 million cross-provincial payments for outpatient services and 1.05 million for inpatient services, with a total of 28.6 billion yuan (US$4.45 billion) paid by the medical insurance directly," he said.

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