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Worries over new insurance
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08:36, March 19, 2009

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The labor and social security bureau here will release a new medical insurance scheme for migrant workers this year, which will allow them to reclaim as much as 278,000 yuan ($40,882) each annually, a top official said yesterday.

"According to the new plan, we will reimburse each migrant worker's medical expenses up to a maximum of 278,000 yuan every year, Wu Jinming, a director of the medical insurance division of the Guangzhou labor and social security bureau, said.

"Any migrant worker who is not a permanent resident of Guangzhou is qualified for the new insurance policy, as long as his employer pays 48.7 yuan every month," Wu said.

At present, Guangzhou has about 1.6 million migrant workers, approximately 1.1 million of who are covered by the traditional medical insurance policy, which requires the employers to pay 4 percent of the workers' average monthly salary to the labor and social security bureau.

"As per the new scheme, the employer will have to pay only 1.46 percent of the workers' average monthly income," Wu said.

He, however, noted that a large number of migrant workers are in the prime of their youth and seldom require intense medical care.

"The current insurance plan is too expensive, which is why almost a third of the employers in Guangzhou have not got their workers medically insured," Zhang Xuewen, another director of the bureau's medical insurance division, said.

The new plan will save the employers some money, and those who have already bought the traditional insurance policy for their workers can "easily transfer to the new scheme", he said

Zhang said the new plan is "more flexible, affordable and very suitable for migrant workers".

According to the new plan, a migrant worker can reclaim only half of his medical expenses if the bill is less than 2,000 yuan a year.

If the expenditure is higher than 2,000 yuan, a worker can reclaim between 64 percent and 72 percent, depending on the hospital he was treated.

The old scheme, on the other hand, reimbursed the workers 80 to 90 percent of their medical expenditure. Migrant workers, who are not insured, have welcomed the new scheme, but those covered under the old policy have a different opinion.

Lin Yuehua, a migrant worker, who hails from Sichuan province, said: "My boss got me covered under the old policy three years ago. But now, if he chooses to transfer to the new plan, as it saves him money, I will lose my benefits."

Wu said the bureau is still waiting to see how the migrant workers react to the new scheme.

Source: China Daily

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