Commercial health insurance and charitable donations should be tapped to pay for medical expenses beyond those covered by the recently implemented urban basic medical insurance scheme, a senior official said.
Hu Xiaoyi, vice-minister of labor and social security, was speaking during an online interview yesterday at www.gov.cn, nearly a month after the government introduced the urban basic medical insurance scheme that will cover all of the country's unemployed urban residents by 2010.
With the amount of reimbursement capped at 30,000 yuan ($4,000) per year per person, the program will not totally relieve the economic strain on patients suffering from life-threatening diseases such as cancer or who are in dire need of organ transplants, Hu said.
"A multi-layer, comprehensive health insurance network is being set up to address people's difficulty seeking medical care," Hu said.
"Featuring a none-left-behind approach, the scheme, funded primarily by the government, has to benefit as many people as possible," he said.
At present, the government gives 40 yuan a year to every participant in the scheme in the first batch of 79 pilot cities, with more going to families with low-income earners and disabled members.
However, the scheme does not diminish the significance of donations from society, Hu said.
In three years' time, the scheme will be expanded nationwide to benefit 240 million urban residents, mostly primary and middle school students, as well as the unemployed and senior citizens, previous reports said.
A list of medicines for children available under the scheme will be released soon, Hu said.
Accounting for 18 percent of the country's population, the 240 million urban residents are the last group to be covered by health insurance.
All urban workers have been covered since 1998, and about 80 percent of the rural population is now covered by the new rural cooperative medicare system, initiated in 2002.