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New Program to Extend Urban Medical Coverage
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This year China will launch a pilot project to provide medical insurance to 240 million urban residents outside the workforce, with plans to cover all urban residents by 2010, said a senior official with the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) Wednesday.

The project would cover those not currently included in the system for urban employees, including school students, children, and adults who are not employed, Hu Xiaoyi, vice minister of MLSS, said at a press conference.

Hu said the pilot project would be carried out in 79 cities, including large cities as well as county-level cities. Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai are not among the pilot cities, as similar practices have already been adopted in the three cities, according to Hu.

Hu said local governments would fix the contribution rates for the insurance plan under guidelines from the central government based on the local economic development levels.

However, Hu said a contribution rate set at about two percent of the average per capita disposable income would be appropriate, and the Chinese government aimed to have the insurance project cover 50 to 60 percent of the total cost of those insured.

Experimental practices of establishing medical insurance for all urban residents have already been implemented in some cities and towns. China established a medical insurance system for urban employees in 1998, and a new cooperative medical care system in 2003 designed to cover all rural residents.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2007)

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