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Medical Insurance for Disabled Soldiers
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A set of regulations issued on Tuesday stipulates that 290,000 retired army personnel with deformities graded 1 to 6 will receive medical insurance and subsidies.

"The regulations are designed to distribute public funds more equally, especially in the poorer countryside, where disabled army personnel aren't necessarily covered by medical insurance," said an official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MOCA). Official statistics show that medical care for a soldier with a deformity graded 1 to 6 costs 6,000 yuan (US$750) per year.

The regulations specify how those eligible can purchase medical insurance plans with their subsidies, and provides information for those who cannot afford the minimum premium payments, the official noted.

According to him, there are 10 grades of deformity for soldiers in China. People who lose all or most of their working capacity are graded from 1 to 6, depending on the nature of the disability.

The official noted that the issue of the regulations is an important step in improving care for retired and disabled army men, who are given priority under China's national compensation system. By September 2004, a total of 39 million people were covered by the system, including members of revolutionary martyrs' families, disabled army men, retired Red Army soldiers, and retired army personnel.

To date, China has issued more than 20 sets of national compensation regulations, and local governments have issued over 2,000 policies.

However, the official pointed out that the regulation currently being used to compensate army men was issued in 1988, and due to soaring medical costs it is now outdated. Recognizing this, the central government increased its national compensation subsidies by 15 percent per year from 1998 to 2004, making a total investment of 44.8 billion yuan (US$5.6 billion).

In addition, the larger cities like Beijing also provide army personnel with benefits, such as free bus and subway transport and free entry to museums. In August last year, China invested 7.46 billion yuan (US$941 million) to improve the national compensation standards for the 16th time.

About 860,000 disabled army men, 500,000 family members of revolutionary martyrs, 80,000 retired Red Army soldiers and 2.22 million demobilized soldiers benefit from these measures.

(Xinhua News Agency January 18, 2006)

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