Guangzhou -- Migrant workers and their children in the capital of Guangdong Province could soon benefit from medical insurance, an official has said.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, the local government is planning this year to extend its insurance scheme, which was previously exclusive to the city's permanent residents, to include children, students, retired people and migrant workers.
Cui Renquan, director of the Guangzhou bureau of labor and social security, said the system will benefit more than 5 million people by the end of the year, almost half the city's total population.
According to the Guangzhou social security fund management center, between 2004 and 2006, the proportion of the cost of medical treatment that members of the scheme had to pay was reduced from 27 percent to 16.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Shenzhen, which has played a leading role in the reform of the country's social security system, extended its insurance scheme to include children late last month.
As of December 20, 334,000 children had joined the social insurance scheme, which includes medical insurance, statistics show.
As well as registered permanent residents of Shenzhen aged under 18, the scheme includes migrant children who have at least one parent who has been a member of the scheme for at least one year, and also the children of expatriates who have joined the scheme.
In 2006, Shenzhen launched the mainland's first medical insurance scheme specifically designed for migrant workers.
Under the scheme, workers pay 4 yuan ($0.55) a month and their employers pay a further 8 yuan. In return, the fund covers almost 80 percent of the cost of outpatient care and 63 percent of the cost of inpatient care.