Managing Urban Stroke Health Expenditures in China: Role of Payment Method and Hospital Level

Document Type : Original Article


1 Medical Device Regulatory Research and Evaluation Center, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China

2 School of Management, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China

3 National Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine Strategy and Development, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China

4 Guang'anmen Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China

5 Australian National Institute of Management and Commerce, Sydney, NSW, Australia

6 Guangdong Institute for International Strategies, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, China

7 School of Economics and School of Management, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin, China

8 Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia

9 University of Liverpool Management School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

10 China Health Insurance Research Association, Beijing, China


Stroke is one of the leading public health issues in China and imposes a heavy financial burden on patients and the healthcare system. This study assess which payment method provides the lowest hospital costs for China’s healthcare system and the lowest out-of-pocket (OOP) expense for insured patients.

This is a 4-year cross-sectional study. From the China Health Insurance Research Association (CHIRA) database, a 5% random sample of urban health insurance claims was obtained. Descriptive analysis was conducted and a generalized linear model (GLM) with a gamma distribution and a log link was estimated.

For outpatients, capitation payment had the lowest hospital cost (RMB180.9/US$28.8) and lowest OOP expenses (RMB75.6/US$12.0) per patient visit in primary hospitals compared with fee-for-service (FFS) payments. The global budget (GB) displayed the lowest total hospital costs (RMB344.7/US$54.8) in secondary hospitals, and was 27.4% (95% CI = -0.32, -0.29) lower than FFS. FFS had the lowest OOP expenses (RMB123.4/US$19.6 vs. RMB151.8/US$24.1) in secondary and tertiary hospitals. For inpatients, FFS had the lowest total hospital costs (RMB5918.7/US$941.1) per visit and capitation payments had the lowest OOP expenses (RMB876.5/US$139.4, 40.1% lower than FFS, 95% CI = -0.58, -0.15) in primary hospitals. Capitation payment had both the lowest hospital costs (RMB7342.9/US$1167.5 vs. RMB17 711.7/US$2816.2) and the lowest OOP expenses (RMB1664.2/US$264.6 vs. RMB3276.3/US$520.9) for both secondary and tertiary hospitals.

For outpatients in primary hospitals and inpatients in secondary and tertiary hospitals, the capitation payment was the most money-saving payment method delivering both the lowest OOP expenses for patients and the lowest hospital total costs for hospitals. We recommend that health policymakers prioritize the implementation of the payment method with the lowest OOP expenses when the payment method does not deliver both the lowest hospital costs for the health system and lowest OOP expenses for patients.


  • epublished Author Accepted Version: February 9, 2022
  • epublished Final Version: February 22, 2022
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Volume 11, Issue 11
November 2022
Pages 2698-2706
  • Receive Date: 04 July 2020
  • Revise Date: 17 November 2021
  • Accept Date: 08 February 2022
  • First Publish Date: 09 February 2022