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Medicare Insurance to Cover 300 Mln Urban Residents
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China will improve its social security network over the next five years to provide basic medical insurance to 300 million urban residents by 2010, a report in Tuesday's Health News said.

The move is aimed at providing basic medical insurance for unemployed urban dwellers, including students and laid-off workers, the report quoted an official with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security as saying.

Statistics from the ministry showed that China's social medicare insurance network covered about 145 million urban employees and retirees. The unemployed have to buy commercial insurance themselves.

The report said the government would gradually expand the social medicare network according to China's social and economic development and "the condition of various groups of people".

The government would start piloting programs soon and then workout a detailed plan, the report said, without elaborating.

Medicare insurance has remained a tough problem in China where the large rural population has enjoyed less healthcare than urban people.

In 2003, the government launched the cooperative medicare program for its 800 million farmers, under which, the government and farmers jointly raised funds to help farmers pay for treatment for major diseases.

The government has announced that it plans to expand the rural cooperative medical system grandually to 80 percent of villages by 2008.

China had more than 500 million urban residents, said the report.

(Xinhua News Agency September 21, 2006)

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