China's new rural cooperative medical care system was extended to 1,399 counties by last June, covering 495 million rural dwellers, says a white paper issued on Tuesday.
China began a medical care system pilot scheme in 2003, aiming to pool funds from individuals, as well as local and central governments to solve medical difficulties of rural dwellers.
Up to 396 million farmers, and over 73 percent of the elderly people in the experimental areas, participated in this new-fangled medical care system, says the white paper titled The Development of China's Undertakings for the Aged.
A total of 14.412 billion yuan has been paid out among 282 million cases as subsidies to farmers who joined the new medical care system, it says.
The central government now requires local governments to give preferential treatment to participating people aged over 70 in meeting their special needs, says the white paper.
A rural medical aid system has been established, with funds from government allocations and public donations, to help the elderly and poor farmers to join the new cooperative medical system.
The white paper says that the rural medical aid system has now been set up nationwide. In 2005, over a billion yuan in medical aid subsidy was allocated to farmers in 11.12 million cases.
The white paper says the government is exploring ways to set up a remedial urban medical aid system by pooling medical aid funds from various channels, such as state revenue allocations, public lottery welfare funds and public donations, in order to subsidize the medical costs of people in dire need.
By the end of 2005, experimental work had been conducted in 1,119 counties, providing medical aid in 1.633 million cases, the white paper says.
(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2006)