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Health insurance covers one billion

CHINA'S basic medical insurance system covers more than 1 billion of the 1.3 billion population, a report issued by the Ministry of Health said on Monday.

The rural cooperative medical insurance system, launched in 2003 to offer basic health care to rural residents, covered 814 million, or 91.5 percent of its target population as of the end of last September, up 12.1 percent and 5.3 percentage points from the previous year's figures, the report said.

Rural medical cooperatives have expanded by 278 since 2007 to 2,729 counties, county-level cities and city districts.

The government expanded the fund pool by doubling its share in 2008.

Under the original scheme, a participant paid 10 yuan (US$1.46) a year, while the state, provincial, municipal and county governments supplied another 40 yuan to the fund.

At present, the fund pool has been raised to 100 yuan, with a split of 20 yuan from the participant and 80 yuan from the governments.

When rural residents fall seriously ill, the pooled funds cover part of their medical costs. Coverage varies by illness and actual expenses.

A total of 71 billion yuan was pooled by the fund in the first nine months of last year, compared with 42.8 billion yuan in the whole of 2007.

The fund paid out about 42.91 billion yuan over the first nine months in reimbursements, benefiting 370 million people.

China's soaring medical fees and low medical insurance coverage prompted the government to set up a nationwide safety net of minimal medical insurance, which currently includes the rural medical scheme, the basic medical insurance for urban employees, and the unemployed, as well as medical aid for the poor in both rural and urban areas.

As of 2007, the basic medical insurance for urban employees covered 180 million people nationwide.

The basic medical insurance for urban residents mainly targets the unemployed.

The State Council promised earlier this year China would increase the basic medical insurance coverage of the rural and urban population to at least 90 percent by 2011. Each person covered by the system will receive an annual subsidy of 120 yuan from 2010.


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