China to raise health insurance subsidies

Updated: 2012-02-23 15:26


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BEIJING - China will raise government subsidies for health insurance offered to farmers and non-working urbanites to over 360 yuan ($57) per person per year by 2015, an increase of 80 percent.

The announcement was made after a State Council executive meeting presided over on Wednesday by Premier Wen Jiabao. At the meeting, new health reform targets were set for the 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015) period.

Reimbursement rates for in-patient care will reach 75 percent by 2015, up from the current 60 percent.

China's basic health insurance system includes health insurance for urban employees, jointly paid by governments, employers and individuals; there is also health insurance for non-working urban dwellers and rural cooperative health insurance for rural residents, which is co-paid by governments and individuals.

Major reform targets include the expansion of basic health insurance coverage, perfecting the country's essential medicine system, as well as improving community-level clinics and public hospitals.

Special attention will be paid to migrant workers, the employees of private enterprises and self-employed people, as well as employees of poorly-performing or bankrupt companies, according to the announcement.

China's basic health insurance system currently covers 1.3 billion people, or 95 percent of the population.

The reforms will also focus on expanding the essential medicine system to village-level clinics and private community health institutions, and greater efforts will be made to shore up community-level health institutions, including training over 150,000 general practitioners (GP) for them.

The essential medicine system requires doctors to prescribe only essential medicines and to sell those medicines at wholesale prices. Previous prescriptions included a 15-percent mark-up.

China will heighten its per capita public health expenditures to over 40 yuan by 2015 from today's 25 yuan.

China will encourage well-funded enterprises, charities, foundations and commercial insurers, as well as overseas investors and eligible individuals, to run health institutions, according to the announcement.

China kicked off its health reforms in April 2009, aiming to correct long-standing problems in its health system and ease public grievances.