Rising medical costs, declining morals top 'unsafe' factors

Updated: 2008-01-08 20:00

BEIJING -- Rising medical costs have become the top concern of Chinese people, according to a new survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday.

The survey of 101,029 families nationwide, the seventh by the NBS on "unsafe" factors upsetting the public, revealed 15.3 percent of those polled chose "medical and health services" as one of their concerns. Declining social morals, ticked by 14.3 percent of those polled, ranked second.

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Other factors that made the people feel "unsafe" included educational problems, unemployment, corruption, pollution, food quality and work security.

Growing public criticism of soaring medical fees, lack of access, poor doctor-patient relations and the low coverage of the medicare system had compelled China to launch a new round of medical reform.

The reform, made public at the end of last year, would increase government responsibility and input, and aimed to provide universal basic coverage at reasonable prices.

China first started its medical service reform in 1992 to abolish a system under which governments covered more than 90 percent of expenses.

However, soaring medical costs had plunged many rural and urban Chinese back into poverty. Currently, there were about 400 million people around the country without any medicare coverage, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

The reform plan promised an initial basic medicare network would be set up by 2010 to reduce the widening gap of medical services among different income groups and regions. By 2020, China would establish a basic medicare network for the whole population.

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