China's Health Ministry Monday issued a new reimbursement policy for farmers, which it said would enable farmers to have their medical expenses refunded quickly.
Participants of the country's rural cooperative medical care system would be reimbursed at designated provincial or city-level hospitals as soon as they are discharged, according to a circular issued by the ministry.
Nie Chunlei, deputy director of the Rural Health Management Department under the ministry, said the new policy was likely to end previous practice that required farmers to pay up the hospital bill first and get reimbursed later if they are treated in medical institutions other than those in their home counties.
Each province will designate one to two provincial or city-level medical institutions to carry out the practice in 2010,and will implement the policy for most provincial and city-level medical institutions within three years.
Government statistics show that 83.4 percent of Chinese farmers go to hospitals in their home county, and 98 percent Chinese farmers see doctors in their home province.
Rural cooperative medical care system is one of the most popular medical insurance plans for Chinese farmers, in which the government and individuals both contribute to the cost of insurance.
The system so far has brought the country's 830 million farmers under the umbrella of medical insurance.