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China to raise health insurance subsidies

(China Daily)

09:09, February 23, 2012

BEIJING - China will raise government subsidies for health insurance offered to farmers and non-working urbanites to more than 360 yuan ($57) a year by 2015.

The 80-percent increase was announced after a State Council executive meeting on Wednesday where new health reform targets were set for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period.

China's basic health insurance system includes health insurance for urban employees, jointly paid by governments, employers and individuals. There is also health insurance for non-working urban dwellers and rural cooperative health insurance for rural residents, which is co-funded by governments and individuals.

Major reform targets include the expansion of basic health insurance coverage, perfecting the country's essential medicine system, as well as improving community-level clinics and public hospitals.

China kicked off its health reforms in April 2009, aiming to correct long-standing problems in its health system and ease public grievances.

"Over the past years, a series of ambitious policies and working plans in pushing the reform of China's medical and health system have been given out by the central government, which reflected the country's determination and confidence in taking on the responsibility toward its 1.3 billion people," said Liang Hong, professor of the School of Social Development and Public Policy at Fudan University.

Liang said much of the reform work has been successful and given the thumbs-up by other countries and the WHO, although there are still some problems and difficulties. He noted that the establishment of a basic healthcare system and grassroots-level medical service system is the focal point of deepening the reform work in future years

"The reform should achieve the goal of equality, sustainability and efficiency. In this regard, the country should quicken the expansion of basic medical insurance.

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