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Premier Li meets the press: Full transcript of questions and answers

Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Updated: 2019-03-16 19:22

China Central Television: It seems that quality medical resources are still somewhat inaccessible and quite expensive. In particular, a serious illness could cause heavy burdens on the families concerned. I would like to ask: what specific measures will the government take to tackle this problem?

Premier Li: Accessing quality medical resources is indeed a key issue related to people's lives. And getting treatment for serious illnesses is truly an acute concern of our people. There does exist the problem of inaccessible and quite expensive medical care in our country. I would like to say that over the years we have been able to provide basic medical care services to cover the entire population. In addition, we have established the scheme for serious illness insurance with a cost-sharing formula between the government and individuals, an important measure to mitigate the burdens on patients with serious illnesses, especially needy patients. This is a quite creative step the Chinese government has taken.

There have been complaints about the high costs of cancer drugs, so last year, through various means including tax cuts, we managed to cut the prices of 17 cancer drugs by over 50 percent and included them into medical insurance schemes. This has significantly eased the financial burdens on cancer patients and poor families. This shows that the government must do its level best in resolving people's concerns.

This year the government plans to do its utmost in taking two major steps. First, we will make the outpatient drugs for chronic diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes reimbursable, and set the reimbursement rate at 50 percent. This measure will benefit some 400 million Chinese suffering from these chronic diseases. And when I talked to some of those patients, they told me that they have to take drugs every day and a lot of their pension benefits have to be spent on these drugs. This is a problem we need to address. Second, when it comes to serious illness insurance scheme, which already covers nearly 1.4 billion people, we will lower the payout threshold and raise the reimbursement rate so that this scheme can truly produce amplifying effects to benefit as many people as possible. Although we have established a medical care safety net that covers a large population, the level of actual benefits is still not high. For example, for Chinese farmers, their average per capita annual income is less than 15,000 yuan, so it would be very hard for one to just rely on himself or herself to cover expenses for the treatment of serious illnesses. The government and private entities must work together in this respect to meet people's health needs. Without health, there would be no happy life for our people.

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