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Ministry: Rural medicare plan benefits 370 mln Chinese from Jan.-Sept.
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20:07, December 10, 2008

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The rural cooperative medical insurance system, launched in 2003 to offer basic health care to rural residents, benefited 370 million Chinese in the first three quarters of the year, a Ministry of Health spokesman told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.

Mao Qun'an said that 814 million rural residents had joined the system as of the end of September, or 91.5 percent of the rural population.

Under the original system, a participant was to pay 10 yuan (about 1.45 U.S. dollars) a year, while the state, provincial, municipal and county governments supplied another 40 yuan per capita to the fund.

The per-person cost has since risen to 100 yuan, with 20 yuan from the participant and 80 yuan from the government.

More than 71 billion yuan has been pooled by the end of September, of which more than 24.6 billion yuan came from the central government, 34 billion from local governments, 11.8 billion from individuals and the rest from interest and other channels, Mao said.

He said almost 43 billion yuan had been spent as subsidies for rural residents when they visited doctors, got hospital treatment or gave birth in the first three quarters of this year.

"Generally speaking, the management and operation of the fund is still in the primary stage. The ministry will strengthen its management and try every means to assure the safety of the fund," Mao said.

Mao said 238 million people in eastern regions have participated in the plan, accounting for 95.7 percent of the rural population. That's higher than the rate of 89.9 percent in the central and western areas, where 577 million rural residents joined the scheme.


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