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Health insurance gets State Council approval

Updated: 2014-08-28 06:59
By Wang Qingyun and Mo Jingxi (China Daily)

The central government decided in an executive meeting of the State Council on Wednesday that it is going to promote an insurance program to cover most of the medical costs of severe diseases for unemployed and rural people nationwide.

The meeting, presided over by Premier Li Keqiang, decided that the government should work with commercial health insurers, which will coordinate with basic insurance programs provided by the government, so that people can have more of their medical costs reimbursed.

Six ministerial-level departments, including the National Development and Reform Commission and the former ministry of health, issued a circular in August 2012 asking provinces to complement the government's insurance programs for unemployed people and rural residents.

The government provides basic health insurance to reimburse some of the medical costs of unemployed urban residents and children in urban areas, and a "new rural cooperative medical system" for rural residents.

However, because the two insurance programs "have a relatively lower level of reimbursement", the central government decided to introduce a new kind of insurance program to further relieve the burden when unemployed or rural people need treatment for severe diseases, the circular said.

In January, the central government issued another circular, saying that provinces that had not yet tried the new program should start the trial by the end of June.

The basic medical insurance for unemployed urban residents and rural residents only covers about 50 percent of medical costs, said Tang Jun, a social policy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"However, (under the new insurance program) if those insured are diagnosed as having a severe disease, they can turn to commercial insurance agencies to have another 20 percent to 30 percent of medical costs reimbursed," he said.

A health official who spoke on condition of anonymity said a majority of provinces have tried the new insurance program.

The government selects commercial insurance agencies that can run the program the most efficiently, the official said.

At the executive meeting, the central government also decided to speed up the construction of general hospitals, hospitals specializing in Traditional Chinese Medicine and rehabilitative institutions, and to build more rest homes in rural areas.

It also said it will push forward projects including one to prevent and treat air pollution and pollution of key rivers.

The government also will develop clean energy with great effort and start a number of projects including wind power, hydropower, photovoltaic power and nuclear power in coastal areas.

Contact the writers at wangqingyun@chinadaily.com.cn and mojingxi@chinadaily.com.cn

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