Opinion / From the Press

Include civil servants in public medical insurance system

( Updated: 2013-01-14 22:17

Including civil servants in the public medical insurance system is the first step to regularize China's healthcare reform, said an article in the 21st Century Business Herald. Excerpts:

China will increase the subsidy for each inhabitant of a rural area participating in the medical insurance program to 280 yuan ($44) and 20 kinds of illnesses, including lung cancer, will be covered by the medical insurance for serious illnesses.

The coverage of the rural inhabitants' healthcare costs will also increase to more than 70 percent for less serious illnesses, and at least 50 percent for serious illnesses.

These changes will further relieve the rural population's healthcare financial burdens. The rapid and large-scale urbanization requires China to spend more money on the increasing demands of the rural population and city residents.

Medical expenses accounted for 4.6 percent of China's GDP in 2009, among which only 50.1 percent are public medical costs.

The government resources used on healthcare only take 0.98 percent of China's GDP, much lower than the international standard of 8 to 15 percent. That means that the citizens still assume the bigger part of their medical costs, despite a series of efforts made by the government in medicine pricing reforms and medical insurance reforms.

A considerable part of the government's financial support is used to subsidize the medical bills of civil servants and to build public hospitals. Only a small part is invested directly on citizens' medical care.

Civil servants, a relatively small number of people, take up a large proportion of China's medical resources. Public hospitals have to sell expensive medicine to squeeze more profits. This ill and unfair healthcare subsidy system distorts the supply-and-demand relations of China's medical market. So it is really an irony that the government is asking hospitals to stop selling and over prescribing expensive medicine without cutting its huge subsidies for the medical bills of civil servants.

The Chinese government should include all civil servants in the public healthcare insurance system. This is the very first meaningful step to bring order to China's healthcare field.

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