China to expand basic urban health insurance

Updated: 2007-07-25 06:37
BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhua) -- China plans to set up a comprehensive medical insurance program over the next three years that will cover all urban citizens, including children and the unemployed.

The country will introduce a national health insurance program for all urban residents, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said at a meeting held on Monday and Tuesday in Beijing.

Only employed urban residents have so far been able to join the national health insurance program. With the advent of the new program, which is to be financed by the central government, a further 200 million urban residents will be insured.

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The government has selected 79 cities to launch the pilot program by the end of September.

Different cities should develop a reasonable and practical policy for the pilot program in accordance with their own government revenue and living standards, Wen said.

They should also give residents freedom of choice and attract them to participate in the scheme with promises of quality service, he said.

The central government will give more support to cities in the less developed central and western areas of China, he said.

"China's rapid economic growth and increasing government revenue have provided sound
basis for adopting this program," Wen said.

In the first half of this year, China's government revenue topped 2.6 trillion yuan (342.56 billion U.S. dollars), a year-on-year rise of 30.6 percent.

The Chinese government started a health insurance program for the urban employed in 1998 and a cooperative health care program for rural residents in 2003.

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