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Medicare to Cover College Students

There are plans to expand the social security system to cover college students' medicare, an unnamed official from the Department of Medical Insurance with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security said on Friday.


The decision was made following the highly publicized case of Cai Yun, a college undergraduate from Lanzhou University who could not afford medical treatment after she was diagnosed with a mysterious disease, according to the Gansu-based West Economic Daily.


Cai fell ill last June and almost lost her hearing. Because she could not afford the medical treatment, a local newspaper started a fundraising campaign on her behalf. A doctor from Lanzhou, a specialist in treating hearing disorders, offered her free treatment and donated 5,000 yuan (US$617.28) to help with after-care costs.


An official surnamed Feng from the ministry said the reform could be based on the model adopted in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, where college students' medical services are covered by the province's social security system. Every year, both students and universities in Jiangsu pay an insurance fee for the service.


Feng said under the new system, college students like Cai would be eligible for medical assistance from the local medical insurance agency.


Students have welcomed the announcement of this policy which would guarantee them decent medical services. Many students worry about medical bills and don't go to see a doctor even when they are ill unless they think it is very serious.


Cai said she hopes this new medical reform is implemented as early as possible so other students in her situation can benefit from it.


(Shenzhen Daily August 22, 2005)

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