25 January 2020

POLICY WATCH: Private capital tapped to boost health services

China has opened the health service industry to private capital to meet the people’s growing demand for such services while boosting public consumption as an engine of economic growth.

The State Council, the nation’s cabinet, has issued a circular setting the target of increasing the value of the sector to 8 trillion yuan (US$1.31 trillion) by 2020.

More measures will be unveiled to boost medical services, health management, health insurance, and support sectors related to pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, healthcare facilities and healthcare food, the circular said.

To increase investment in the sector, Beijing will relax market entry requirements while giving equal treatment to non-profit private medical institutions and public medical establishments.

Both foreign and domestic investors will enjoy the same treatment in specific sectors opened for private investment, according to the policy document.

The government will speed up administrative approvals and lower fees for private enterprises seeking to enter the service while enhancing transparency in the flow of relevant information. Conditional tenders will be introduced for new projects.

It will also ease limits on the number, scale and use of medical equipment of privately owned hospitals.

Financial institutions are encouraged to customize products to meet the needs of the health service sector. They should support qualified service providers in raising funds through bond issues and initial public offerings.

Venture capital funds will also be encouraged to tap new opportunities in the sector. The government will play a leading role in establishing investment funds for the sector.

While nurturing the market for healthcare providers, the government will also provide additional resources to unleash demand from the public, especially the poor.

It will also boost subsidies for low-income groups to encourage them to consume more healthcare services. Medical insurance and social insurance systems will be improved to better protect the people’s interest. More tax incentives will be rolled out to spur private enterprises to enhance healthcare insurance policies for their employees.

Experts believe that the new policy is paying more attention to health management, including prevention as well as early detection and treatment of diseases through regular health check-ups. That should benefit the people’s wellbeing and minimize the financial burden of fighting diseases.

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EJ Insight writer