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Health insurance for non-working urbanites
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China will this year expand its experiments in health insurance for non-working residents in 50 percent of the cities involved, said Vice Premier Wu Yi on Tuesday in a national tele-conference.

She urged the pilot cities to accelerate the pace of experimenting, so as to lay a good foundation for the establishment of the Fundamental Medical Insurance System in an all-around manner.

A total of 40.68 million non-working urbanites have been covered by the basic medicare system, including 25.83 million living in 88 pilot cities, said the official, who also heads an inter-ministerial meeting of the State Council, China's Cabinet, to coordinate the reform.

Beneficiaries in these pilot cities have experienced a remarkable drop in medical expenditure when some suffered serious illness, she said.

This year, the experimental reform will be carried out in another 299 cities with a coverage of 50 percent. The involvement of local non-working residents in the 88 pilot cities will increase to 60 percent, Wu said, noting 2008 is very crucial for realizing the target of "Fundamental Health Insurance for All in 2010".

In mid-2007, China initiated the experiments of the fundamental medical care system for non-working urbanites. It plans to bring over 200 million non-working city residents under the umbrella of the new system by 2010.

The reform is part of government efforts to set up a perfect health care system in the country.

In 2008, China began to introduce medical insurance for working people in cities. In 2003, it launched a new type of cooperative medical system in the countryside, as well as a medical assistance system for both rural and urban residents.

(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)

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