Foreign medical products attract medical travel to Hainan, China

Lecheng International Medical Tourism Zone in eastern Hainan Island claims it is three years ahead of schedule in registering foreign medical products, clearing more than 200 medical devices and drugs requiring a special license for use.  With advanced foreign medical technology in the Zone, the local authority states that Chinese citizens and foreigners have the opportunity to undergo treatment on the island without having to visit other countries where these drugs and equipment are produced. They also note that treatment costs have gone down and claim that corneal transplants in Hainan will now cost seven times less than in the United States.

By the end of 2021, the Zone had registered more than 200 imported medical devices and pharmaceutical drugs. The list of reimbursable drugs covered by its insurance system includes 100 types of special medical products, 75% of which are produced by foreign pharmaceutical companies.

39 of these devices and drugs are designed to treat cancer, 38 help rehabilitating patients after injuries and diseases, 31 are used in the field of ophthalmology, and 28 are for used in cardiology.

The minimum national insurance package “Lecheng” for the purchase of pharmaceutical products is  39 yuan per year (US$ 6), and for residents of Hainan – 29 yuan (US$ 5). More than 1.7 million people purchased it in 2020.

The number of patients who use them in Hainan has increased by 454% claims the Lecheng Zone Administration, reaching its target not in 2025, but three years earlier.

The authorities remain vague on actual numbers for 2021 but the 2025 target is 250,000 medical tourists.  Almost all are from Mainland China.

Hainan reported 19,000 medical tourists in 2017, 32,000 in 2018, 68,000 in 2019 and 83,900 in 2020. Increasing 83,900 by 454% is 382,630. If all five years are added together this is around 250,000.