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Beijing to Halve Retirees' Medical Care Expenses
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Beijing is to kick start a government-funded supplementary medical care program aiming to halve the financial burden facing retired workers who become ill, sources at a news briefing said Monday.

The scheme, expected to be launched April 1, specifies the municipal government's responsibility of shouldering half of the expenses retired workers have to pay themselves.

Wang Dexiu, deputy director of Beijing Municipal Labor and Social Security Bureau, further explained that under the current medicare system, retirees over 70 have to pay 30 percent of their medical costs. Under the new supplementary health care program they will only have to pay 15 percent.

The new program will cover retirees who are not former government workers who are already receiving medical subsidies from the government.

Previously, better-off enterprises and institutions set up their own supplementary medicare scheme. The new plan will reach city-wide coverage for the first time.

Wang said the new plan is designed to replace existing supplementary medicare policies in some enterprises and institutions but they will still be allowed to contribute to theirretired employees health care costs.

Wang also noted that the supplementary scheme will be paid by the municipal government's medical care fund. Enterprises, institutions or individuals will not have to pay for the new scheme.

The Beijing municipal government has targeted 59 specific projects for the welfare of the public in 2006, including improving the medical care of the retirees, which Wang said will be the first one to be fulfilled.

(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2006)

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