China / Society

China unifies pension system

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-12-23 20:57

BEIJING -- Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai said Tuesday that the national social security system has been basically established, with recent measures expanding and increasing coverage.

When delivering a report at the ongoing bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (CPC) Standing Committee, the top legislature, Ma said a pension insurance program, covering residents of rural and urban areas, had been established.

As of the end of November, 837 million people had joined the system.

The pension system for private employees has now expanded to not only cover employees of state-owned and collective enterprises but to all firms, social organizations and the casual- and self-employed.

As for the universal healthcare system, Ma added, it almost covered the whole population.

In addition, the government is promoting critical illness insurance to lessen the financial impact of life-threatening conditions. It is also working toward the unification of the rural and urban healthcare systems.

Over 95 percent of Chinese citizens, over 1.3 billion people, are covered by various kinds of basic healthcare systems, the report explained.

As more and more people enlist in pension and healthcare insurance programs, the amount they are entitled to has risen. For instance, after adjustments in 10-consecutive years, pension insurance for enterprise retirees has been increased from 647 yuan (104 U.S. dollars) in 2004 to 2,070 yuan in 2014, according to Ma.

Employees and urban citizens' healthcare insurance can cover about 80 percent and 70 percent, respectively, of aggregate in-hospital medical expenses, while 75 percent of rural citizens' in-hospital expenses will be covered by insurance.

There have also been improvements to the social assistance and welfare systems, such as an increase to the minimum living allowance from 266 yuan in 2004 to 401 yuan this year for urban low-income citizens, while low income citizens in rural areas receive annual allowances of 2,673 yuan per capita.

However, Ma admitted, some problems still existed in the social security system, including an equality gap between urban and rural citizens, a lack of fund-raising channels and the needs for relevant legislation to ensure the rights of itinerant migrant workers.

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