Healthcare Security Alliance Formed in Chengdu

Back to list 2019-11-01 16:40:31

The Chendu government has just announced the founding of China's first Healthcare Security Alliance (HSA). The major purpose of HSA is to combine government social medical welfare programs with private health insurance, so as to create an international healthcare program by combining various forces and innovative thinking. MSH China is honored to be one of its founding members.

MSH China is the only third-party international health insurance service provider in HSA. MSH has operated in China for almost 20 years. We set up China's first international health insurance service center in 2001, we created the cashless direct billing model in cooperation with China's top public medical institutions. So far, MSH China has been working with more than 40 insurance companies in mainland China and overseas, to develop and provide service for various health insurance products. Our global medical network covers over 1.2 million medical institutions and providers in 150 countries around the world. We expect to support HSA in terms of insurance product design and service provision, development and maintenance of global high-quality medical resources, as well as evaluation and risk control for insurance claims. We can also provide strong IT platform to be able to facilitate the deployment of strategies and implementation of services of the Alliance with the combination of global and local service experience we have provided over the years.

Here I would like to share some observations on the healthcare security schemes in Singapore and in France. It may provide helpful perspective to develop a local strategy for China.

The government of Singapore stresses individual responsibility combined with protection of the weak to minimize government spending. Each Singaporean has three Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts: Ordinary Account, Special Account and Medisave Account. The Medisave Account can be used not only for personal contribution to the premium of Medisave (the basic social medical program), but also for paying the premium of Medishield (supplementary private health insurance). The citizens can also use the balance of their Medisave account to pay for their copayment under Medisave and Medishield. The government of Singapore encourages individual responsibility for healthcare, calls upon its citizens to purchase supplementary private health insurance based on their own needs and allows 'flexible'spending of their Medisave Personal Account.

The healthcare security scheme in France has been named by the World Health Organization (WHO) into "Best Practice of Health Programs". It comprised of three pillars, basic social health scheme, mutual health insurance and supplementary private health insurance. 96% of French citizens have supplementary private health insurance. They have flexible choices over a range of benefit options such as increasing the limits or reimbursement percentage for dental, vision and other benefits. The French government carries out a policy of encouraging its citizens to purchase supplementary private health insurance at their own cost. The out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure of French citizens is only 8% of the total healthcare expenditures. This percentage of out-of-pocket expenses is the lowest among all the 36 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The French government in 2017 promulgated a law to allow "healthcare payment through third-party administrators". In this respect, third-party healthcare service providers, such as MSH, act as a bridge among Social Healthcare Security Administration, medical institutions, and commercial insurers. Citizens can register their private health insurance policy information with Social Healthcare Security Administration in order to connect their private health insurance with their social health insurance. When the citizens seek healthcare services, they only need present their insurance cards. The medical institutions will then settle the expenses with Social Healthcare Security Administration and commercial insurers respectively through third-party healthcare administrators. This model enables patients to seek non-local and international healthcare services with cashless service with only one insurance card at hand. By utilizing third-party claim settlement platforms, the government in France has achieved flow of healthcare service data among Social Healthcare Security Administration, commercial insurers, and medical institutions, and maximized the utilization of social medical welfare and private health insurance.

The government of Chengdu may consider the preceding successful experience of Singapore and France in setting up a multi-level and cross-area "social medical welfare + commercial health insurance" healthcare scheme subject to China's own circumstances to enhance the quality of life for the people of Chengdu.

As far as product design is concerned, most of the supplementary health insurance products in China are designed in accordance of the directories of social health schemes. Simply speaking, "items not covered under social health schemes are usually not covered under supplementary health insurance either". And there is no linkage between social health schemes and private health insurance that cover imported drugs, expensive treatments outside of the domiciled cities or even out-of-the-country. In this context, it is imperative to reform on private health insurance to integrate it with social health schemes in order to meet people's healthcare needs at all levels, and fulfill non-local and international cashless healthcare services where the insureds can "be spared from paying most of the healthcare expenses on their own". This way, the massive resources of social health schemes and private insurance that are not fully utilized can be made full use of to booster the development of private health insurance sector and various medical institutions.

Regarding payment and settlement of healthcare expenses, the HSA promotes "data circulation in place of citizen bustling". It is believed that if the government in Chengdu can make full use of the strengths of third-party health insurance service providers. Then a smooth global medical network and cross-border services can be developed. These smooth direct payment and settlement model integrating "social health schemes + private health insurance + personal spending" will realize China's first authentic "dual-function" health security cards in Chengdu. Chengdu's card holders may seek healthcare services in China and even around the world and enjoy cashless service in the future. It would be an inspiring and creative move in China's history of social health scheme reform, and would help Chengdu stand out among its peers as the pioneer.

Chengdu is the key city in West China, it has a population of 21 million. Its area is quadruple the size of Singapore, triple that of New York or one third that of France. It's a great social practice with strategic significance to lead the healthcare reform in a city with such a large population. Also, the Greater Chengdu Area encompasses a population of 380 million in Greater West China Area. It has become the regional hub to attract many domestic and foreign companies and international schools. It aims to be the 'best city to live'with the highest standard of education and healthcare for both foreigners and high-end local class. Building an international healthcare consumption center in Chengdu will be a multi-dimensional goal in the long run, which will definitely lead to an emerging healthcare ecosystem, an industrial chain involving a variety of industries, such as health insurance, healthcare services, pharmaceutical products, and healthcare finance will be developed. This goal can be facilitated with upon the founding of the HSA.

About a decade ago, one of MSH China's overseas-Chinese customers, who was the world's leading semiconductor scientist, sustained a sudden heart attack on the top of the Mount Huangshan in a heavy storm. We immediately initiated emergency medical evacuation to take him to the Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital in Hangzhou city overnight for coronary bypass operation. I paid a visit to him. At the hospital's hall, I saw two patients in wheelchairs: a gray-haired and wrinkled Chinese farmer and a white woman with blond hair and blue eyes. I have kept that special moment in mind since then. Thanks to insurance and social welfare benefits, people with different identities and from all over the world can be treated with dignity and respect in the same hospital. Life is equal to all, which has been my career belief and reason for leading MSH to forge ahead. 

Over a thousand years ago, Du Fu wrote one famous poem in Chengdu: "Could I get mansions covering ten thousand miles, I'd house all scholars poor and make them beam with smiles. In wind and rain these mansions would stand like mountains high!" Nowadays it is President Xi's call that "We fight for creating a beautiful life which people yearn for." Chengdu government takes the initiative to respond to this call at this glorious time. We anticipate cooperation with all the other members in the Alliance to achieve the greater good--"all patients are entitled to healthcare services and all elders are entitled to appropriate care" in Chengdu.

Background Introduction

On October 18, 2019, Chengdu Healthcare Security Administration initiated and hosted the founding ceremony and first joint conference of "Chengdu International Healthcare Consumption Center and Healthcare Security Strategic Alliance (hereinafter referred to as the Alliance)". This Alliance covers government's healthcare security administration, banking and financial institutions, insurance companies, and third-party administrators. So far no similar alliances are formed either domestically or abroad.

This Alliance was founded with purposes of building a multi-level high-quality healthcare security system, effectively contributing to building an international healthcare consumption center in Chengdu, promoting pilot healthcare reform integrating social health insurance + private health insurance, and creating a healthcare service ecosystem step by step. Therefore it is urgent to break traditional thinking paradigm, to adopt a more efficient organization structure, and to encourage all the stakeholders, including government organizations, private organizations and the consumers to have more effective interaction in order to achieve amplified influence on the healthcare segment.

Founding members of the Alliance: Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) Chengdu Branch, Bank of Communications (BOCOM) Sichuan Branch, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Chengdu Branch, China Construction Bank (CBC) Sichuan Branch, Bank of Chengdu, China Merchants Bank (CMBC) Chengdu Branch, China Ever bright Bank (CEB) Chengdu Branch, China Life Insurance Chengdu Branch, PICC Property and Casualty Company Limited (PICC P&C) Chengdu Branch, China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co., Ltd. (CPIC) Sichuan Branch, China Continent Property & Casualty Insurance (CCIC) Sichuan Branch, Taikang Pension Insurance Sichuan Branch, and MSH China.

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