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China to expand migrant workers's medicare


14:35, March 01, 2012

HANGZHOU, March 1 (Xinhua) -- China will launch a health scheme to cover migrant workers' medical insurance when they seek medical treatment in places other than their hometown, Health Minister Chen Zhu on Monday said at a national conference on digital health programs in the coastal province of Zhejiang.

China has more than 200 million rural migrants who have left their often poverty-stricken hometowns and relocated to coastal areas for better pay. Most of them enjoy the New Rural Cooperative Medical Care System, a basic medical insurance for rural residents in China, in their registered hometowns.

However, as China's urban and rural healthcare systems are separate, migrant workers don't get help from the government for the medical expenses if they receive treatment away from home.

Chen said they are likely to select one or two provinces from the prosperous regions of the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and Pan-Bohai economic zone to pilot the plan.

The scheme is expected to be expanded to more provinces during the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period, Chen said.

Under the plan, a comprehensive information system consisting of national, provincial and prefecture or city-level information systems will be founded to make migrant workers' medical insurance information available in different places so that their medical costs can be quickly reimbursed, according to Chen.

China started the New Rural Cooperative Medical Care System in 2003 to offer affordable medical services to the country's rural residents.

According to the the Ministry of Health (MOH), 832 million people in rural areas, or more than 95 percent of the rural population, are covered by the rural medical system, and annual subsidies per person provided by governments had reached 300 yuan by the start of 2012, which allows farmers to be reimbursed for about 70 percent of their inpatient costs.


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