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Health insurance to cover 95% of rural residents

(China Daily)

09:11, January 08, 2013

At least 95% of rural residents to be covered, says health minister

China will increase spending on public health insurance, particularly for rural residents, ensuring that at least 95 percent of its rural population is covered, Health Minister Chen Zhu said on Monday.

Under a new cooperative medical care system designed exclusively for rural people, the government subsidy is expected to reach 280 yuan ($45) per person annually in 2013 up from the current 240 yuan, Chen said at a national conference on health work.

"More important, we'll improve the working mechanism and strengthen supervision to help avert unnecessary administration of drugs and examinations to help further ease patients' economic burden," he said.

The current reimbursement rate for hospital expenses for rural residents stands at 55 percent on average, according to the Ministry of Health. However, ideally, this rate is designed to be around 70 percent under the policy, Chen said.

Overprescription of new and more expensive drugs that are not listed on the essential-drug list is mainly to blame, he said.

Non-essential drugs were not covered by the insurance program, increasing patients' costs.

As a part of China's ongoing healthcare and medical reforms, an essential-drug list that includes 307 categories is designed to control drug costs and improve people's access to basic medical services.

A revised version of the list will be issued in a few months, Chen said.

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