Shanghai has included the da Vinci surgical system into its public medical insurance coverage, suggesting that the city’s insured residents will be able to reimburse the expenses of surgeries performed with the aid of the world-famous surgical robot.
According to local media reports, the da Vinci robot, developed by Intuitive Surgical in the United States, is among 76 healthcare devices and services added to a list of items eligible for compensation by the country’s basic medical insurance network.
China’s public medical insurance fund covers a vast population and depends on the contribution of both the employer and employee.
Insured residents who submit a fraction of their monthly income to the fund get access to various benefits, including partial or full compensation for certain treatment and medicine.
The rate of compensation varies by region, with Shanghai coming at the top.
Surgical robots are expanding rapidly due to huge demand for these instruments that can help doctors carry out operations.
Nonetheless, surgical robots can be costly to use, with domestic hospitals charging about 44,000 yuan (US$6,155) for an operation performed with the da Vinci system.
A breakdown of this number suggests that 25,900 yuan goes to imported consumables while maintenance and amortization costs amount to about 18,000 yuan.
Despite the somewhat prohibitive prices, the da Vinci surgical system remains sought-after, thanks to its ability to undertake complex, minimally invasive procedures inside human cavity.
This surgical approach has been credited for inflicting less pain, carrying a smaller risk of infection and hastening the post-surgery recovery.
Apart from the da Vinci system, Shanghai is also mulling moves to add a broader category of medical equipment and services to the coverage of its healthcare insurance network.