Beijing Ambulance Services are to Introduce Taxi Fare Meters
Beijing is the capital of China and is one of the most populated cities in the world. China does not offer a state-funded healthcare system as the service available only covers about fifty percent of the population for half the cost of medical treatment. Most residents in China tend to pay for their health treatment themselves or have a private medical insurance policy. (http://www.movehub.com/advice/expat-pmi)
Although there are western-style medical facilities available in the city of Beijing they tend to be used by expats and nationals with a Private Medical Insurance policy. Which has resulted in the rest of the residents relying on the local GP’s services available, which are already over-populated.
Due to the high demand and cost on the health service from May 2016 all ambulances in Beijing are to be fitted with a taxi-style meter. The charge will be paid by the patient. This is to ensure that the ambulance is only called when necessary in an emergency. As well as reducing conflict between the ambulance driver and the patient over the price paid for the journey to hospital.
The fixed rate of 50 yuan (£5.00) will be charged for patients travelling in an ambulance in Beijing for 3km and then 7 yuan will be charged for each kilometre afterwards. A 50 yuan charge will still apply if an ambulance is called but is not needed. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-36130081)
At the moment the ambulance drivers themselves are pricing the cost of this service they offer which is leaving patients divided as to whether the fare charged is fair if not too high. (http://www.bjnews.com.cn/news/2016/04/22/401026.html)
A local man who used the Beijing ambulance service to transport his ill father 80km to hospital in February of this year was charged with a bill of 3600 yuan. This is the equivalent to the half average Beijing’s workers monthly wage – £380.
A few locals agree that the introduction of meters in ambulances in Beijing will help the service to be more efficient and to ensure the price charged fair for both the patient and the ambulance service.
Many residents of Beijing are not aware that the ambulance service charges for the use of their facility and the general feeling is that it is unethical to charge for a service which is available in an emergency to save lives. Locals are concerned that ambulance drivers will make detours on journeys to hospitals in order to clock up a high charge for the patient and put very sick patients at a greater risk during a longer journey.