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Over 65% Chinese Without Medical Insurance

Yesterday, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) published its annual blue paper, its report on social conditions and changes in China, and highlighted the fact that about 65.7 percent of Chinese people do not have any kind of medical insurance.

According to the Analysis and Predictions of China's Social Situation 2006, a CASS survey found that approximately a quarter of those asked had given up medical insurance because they could not afford the premiums.

From January to September, 133.41 million urban workers were insured for medical insurance and 5.038 billion yuan (US$672.5 million) was distributed to 119 million farmers who participated in the rural cooperative medical insurance system.

The blue paper said "It is difficult and expensive to seek medical advice, and policy-making departments are urged to give more thought to the government's role in the health care system."

Ordinary Chinese people find it too expensive to go to hospital and about 48.9 percent choose not to seek medical attention when they have an illness, according to China's third survey of health care services earlier this month.

A recent medical bill scandal over 10 million yuan (US$1.23 million) costs for the hospital treatment of a patient in northeast China's Harbin drew a lot of attention and criticism in the media and from the public.

In 1985, China launched reforms of its public health care system that increased the decision-making power of hospitals, and government investment in this area has been gradually reduced.

Currently, governments contribute only 15 percent of total health care costs while patient fees make up 60 percent, according to the Ministry of Health.

(Xinhua News Agency December 22, 2005)

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