China will set up funds to subsidize emergency medical fees incurred by the poor and patients whose identities are unclear, the State Council said in a guideline issued Friday.
The move came amid the government's efforts to help patients whose inability to pay medical bills has resulted in hospitals ignoring them or refusing treatment.
The funds will be used to cover emergency medical treatments for acute illnesses or serious injuries among the poor and patients whose identities have not been confirmed, said Sun Zhigang, director of the health reform office of the State Council.
However, it is not yet clear who would qualify for such financial assistance. Sun said specific criteria to determine whether a patient qualifies need to be worked out by governments and medical institutions based on local conditions.
The Ministry of Health will lead efforts to determine which illnesses and injuries can be covered, as well as develop compensation standards, according to the guideline, which did not include a timeline.
Provincial and prefecture-level governments are required to set up such funds, which will be jointly financed by government revenue and public donations, the guideline says.
The funds, described by the State Council as an important guarantee for establishing an emergency assistance system in China, will be operated by provincial and prefecture-level government health departments.
The health departments will be supervised by a special committee of legislators, political advisors, medical experts, donors and media representatives.
Expenditures will also be subject to public supervision, according to the guideline.
(Xinhua News Agency March 1, 2013)