PICC Health Insurance, a subsidiary of one of China's largest insurers, People's Insurance Company (Group) of China, has launched a unified medical insurance card integrating health consulting, expert diagnosis, treatment and one-stop payment.
A total of 2,015 hospitals, more than 800 health care centres and 40,000 drug stores will all be included in the unified card system.
Dong Yuxing, deputy general manager for healthcare management at PICC Health Insurance, said that the company is experimenting with business models ranging from assisting local governments with healthcare administration, to managed care packages, to various insurance products.
PICC Health Insurance's move to integrate health resources is undertaken even as the Chinese government announced that it is deepening public hospital reform to optimise medical care resources. Reform of the healthcare sector started in 2009.
According to a decision made at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on 9 October, the government's reform of medical care pricing at public hospitals will move toward dynamic price adjustments of medical services to reflect the value of the expertise and efforts of medical workers.
In addition, one or two cities in provincial regions where the comprehensive medical reform is piloted will be chosen for medical insurance payment reform, which covers all medical care institutions and services. The government will also designate over 100 categories of diseases or illnesses for insurance payment reform.
By September, all public hospitals in China have joined the comprehensive reform programme to end the 60-year-old practice of drug price markups. As the reform continues, the share of drug sales in the total revenue of hospitals fell from 46.3% in 2010 to 38.1% in 2016.
The State Council executive meeting this week also decided to speed up efforts to establish medical treatment partnerships, to promote effective cooperation and coordination between different types of medical institutions, including major hospitals and grassroots clinics.
All major public hospitals must take part in the development of such partnerships before the end of this month. Private medical care facilities, aged care and rehabilitation centres will also be encouraged to join the partnerships to provide integrated services for the public.
China's healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP grew from about 2% in 2005 to 3.5% in 2009, when reform of the medical sector started, to about 6% today.