China’s first hospital founded by an insurance firm, in cooperation with local government, opened on Sunday, creating a new model for health care.
Approved by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, the Sunshine Union Hospital opened in Weifang City in east China’s Shandong Province.
The Sunshine Insurance Group invested 3 billion yuan ($461 million) to set up the hospital in cooperation with the city government.
Zhang Weigong, chair of the insurance firm, said at the opening ceremony that the hospital will experiment with introducing commercial medical insurance in hospital fee payment, allowing people better access to medical services.
The class A hospital, on par with all major hospitals in big Chinese cities such as Beijing and Tianjin, covers 63 hectares of land and can accommodate up to 2,000 inpatients.
Liu Shuguang, mayor of Weifang, said in addition to the hospital, the city is also pushing forward medical reforms in public hospitals by encouraging private capital to invest in hospitals.
The hospital is part of China’s plan to build a “healthy China” laid out in the government’s 13th Five-year Plan (2016 to 2020). It offers a guideline to reform the country’s health insurance system to give people easier and better access to medical services.
Previously, provinces such as Jilin, Heilongjiang, Guangdong and Hainan started experimenting with commercial insurance for critical illnesses to complement basic medical insurance.
In late March, the government of Zibo city in Shandong became the latest to link e-pharmacies with government hospitals. JD.com and Shandong Xinhua Pharmaceutical, a pharmacy listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, were tasked with operating an out-of-hospital platform linked with in-hospital prescriptions. Hospitals were asked to share information with the platform to allow patients to purchase drugs easily.