Reimbursement for Medical Devices in Asia

Obtaining a high reimbursement price will give your medical device product a winning advantage in the Asian markets, and we can help.

Reimbursement for Medical Devices in AsiaStrategic planning to obtain the highest reimbursement for your medical device product is crucial for the sales of your medical products in Asia.

Pacific Bridge Medical’s expert consultants are experienced with maximizing the reimbursement potential of medical device products. Acquiring a profitable reimbursement price requires not only expertise and familiarity with each market’s official reimbursement procedures, but also aggressively reacting to market changes and understanding the government’s healthcare goals to justify the pricing for your product accordingly.

Is  medical device reimbursement easily obtainable in the Asian countries?

  • In some of the advanced countries in Asia, hospitals receive government reimbursement for the medical devices they purchase.
  • Less developed Asian countries have little or no reimbursement, so the patient or local charities are responsible for the burden of payment. However, these countries are expected to further develop their reimbursement policies over time.
  • Oftentimes, the government will attempt to reimburse your medical device at a price identical to similar devices of its kind, even if your medical device product includes additional features or enhanced efficacy. Thus, it is critical to be well-informed and experienced with the reimbursement policies in each Asian country in order to obtain a reasonable reimbursement price.

Select your target market below for more information on medical device reimbursement in each Asian country, or contact us to discuss your specific needs.

Select your target market

Reimbursement for Medical Devices in China

There is currently minimal medical device reimbursement in China. Most devices are reimbursed as part of a medical procedure, while a few medical devices are reimbursed on a standalone basis. The reimbursement system is somewhat complicated, especially with its tendering system for certain types of medical devices. In addition, reimbursement prices vary depending on the specific China province. Generally, reimbursement for devices in China is adequate for locally made products but not sufficient for imported products.

Reimbursement and medical device pricing is regulated by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH). Being listed in the reimbursement catalog is essential to ensuring the sales of your medical device in China.

Reimbursement for Medical Devices in Japan

Almost all medical devices sold in Japan are ultimately paid for by Japan’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system. In fact, it is illegal in almost all cases for the Japanese to purchase medical devices that their government has not set up reimbursement for.

There are four main reimbursement categories for medical devices in Japan: A, B, C, and F. A and B are for already categorized medical devices while C and F are relatively new medical device reimbursement categories. Some medical devices are reimbursed through procedure fees, while others are reimbursed based on product category.

Reimbursement prices for medical devices are revised about every two years based on one of two factors: the “reasonable zone” (R-zone) and foreign average pricing (FAP).

  • R-zone reductions are based on the margins that distributors offer to hospitals for products in a specific functional category.  The MHLW conducts a distributor pricing survey to assess the prices being charged to hospitals and the resulting margin as a percentage of the prevailing reimbursement rate.
  • FAP reductions only occur when reimbursement rate is 1.5 times higher than the average price of the product in the same STM category in major foreign reference countries. The reference countries are the U.S., U.K., Australia, France, and Germany.

Reimbursement in Japan normally takes nine months after product approval. However, if you are trying to increase reimbursement and categorize your product into a higher reimbursement category, the process can take more than one year.

Obtaining favorable reimbursement for novel Western products can be difficult due to the government’s desire to constrain rising healthcare costs.

Reimbursement for Medical Devices in Korea

Many medical devices bought in Korea are reimbursed by Korea’s National Health Insurance (NHI) system. Receiving government reimbursement is important for successful sales. However, some medical products do sell in Korea even without reimbursement.

Generally, only implantable or disposable medical devices are reimbursed separately; examples include pacemakers, spinal fixation products, drug-eluting stents, orthopedic trauma products, and sutures. All eligible devices must apply to Korea’s Health Insurance Review Agency (HIRA) for reimbursement within 30 days of product approval, and the reimbursement approval usually takes about 6 months. All non-reimbursed devices are traded at free market prices.

Under Korea’s regulations, medical devices are supposed to be grouped with predicate devices and given the lowest price among existing predicates. This is only avoidable if HIRA decides the product has significant advantages, in which case it may receive the highest price among existing predicates. If the product is completely new, HIRA may decide a new reimbursement price for it, but this will almost always be less than the reimbursement price in advanced Western countries. This situation generally does not favor novel medical products, and has recently been a source of contention in US-Korea trade talks.

Reimbursement for Medical Devices in Taiwan

The universal healthcare system of Taiwan, known as the National Healthcare Insurance Program (NHI), has existed since 1995. The NHI regulator, the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI), usually runs deficits, making them especially interested in cost-cutting measures with respect to medical products.

The BNHI has two reimbursement approval systems in place for medical devices: a fee for service schedule and a case payment system. When assigning a reimbursement price for a new medical device, the BNHI will compare the new product with similar products on the Taiwan market. Generally, the BNHI will request a new applicant to provide a list of published reimbursement prices from other countries, and will typically grant a reimbursement price that is in the low to middle range of those prices.

The self-paid market for higher quality products is becoming more popular in Taiwan’s hospitals. As the BNHI continues to face increasing financial pressure, achieving medical device reimbursement in Taiwan can be very challenging.

Reimbursement for Medical Devices in the Other Asian Countries

Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam

The medical device reimbursement schemes in India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia will vary depending on the medical equipment used, the procedure being done, and the specific reimbursement regulations of each country. Generally, reimbursement in these countries is significantly less than in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. In most of the less developed countries, medical device reimbursement is very low or non-existent.

Pacific Bridge Medical can devise and implement a reimbursement strategy to obtain optimal pricing for your medical device in the Asian countries. We can help balance optimal pricing issues with time to market. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your reimbursement needs.

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