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New Policy to Halve Medical Fees for Retirees
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According to a circular issued on Monday by the Beijing Labor and Social Security Bureau, starting from April 1, retired people who are covered by basic medical insurance will benefit from a uniform supplementary medical insurance. The new scheme excludes those who are already covered by the civil servant medical subsidy system.


The supplementary insurance, financed by the government, will help individuals pay the balance 50 percent of medical fees that are currently not covered by basic medical insurance schemes.


1.55 million retired people are expected to benefit from the new policy.


Different enterprises have their own regulations on supplementary medical insurance: some offer a percentage higher than the unified 50 percent and some lower. Further, some enterprises do not offer supplementary medical insurance. But since April 1 all retirees will benefit from the program irrespective of the insurance schemes provided by their employers, according to Wang Dexiu, vice director of the bureau.


Wang added that the new policy will not mean lower levels of medical treatment.


When the unified insurance scheme comes into effect in April, this will mean a stop to any supplementary insurance program offered by employers. However, there are a few exceptions.


Enterprises that offer a higher percentage will still have to reimburse their employees for the portion that exceeds the unified 50 percent. Enterprises' supplementary medical insurance will still have to cover those in need of constant medical treatment, veteran workers and model workers who took part in the revolutionary cause before the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, and those retirees who have heavy medical expenses and who qualify for assistance.


For those who are discharged from hospital or file their outpatient treatment fees before March 31, subsidies will be based on previous regulations.


Also starting from April, retirees aged 70 and above will receive a fixed amount of 110 yuan every month, and those below 70 will receive 100 yuan every month.


( by Yuan Fang, January 26, 2006)


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