The Guangdong Provincial Government planned to allocate 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) each year for farmers' medical costs.
The fund would provide relief for farmers in the poorer eastern, western and northern parts of the province. It would help farmers pay medical costs which were not covered by the cooperative medical service, a rural health care scheme, the paper said.
Farmers can apply for relief funds if they cannot afford to pay through the self-funded part of the cooperative medical service.
Provincial health department officials released details of the fund recently when answering provincial lawmakers' questions on the rural medical insurance system.
Guangzhou has already launched the cooperative medical service for farmers, which requires farmers and governments to fund rural medical costs together in 2003.
In poorer regions in Guangdong, farmers pay only 30 yuan per head for the health scheme each year. The provincial government pays 10 yuan per head for farmers in the western, eastern, and northern areas, while the governments at city, county and township levels are also required to pay a total of 10 yuan for each farmer's health care.
However, the cooperative medical service contribution is not enough to cover all medical costs of farmers. In most areas, the amounts paid out in medical insurance to farmers are limited. If a poor farmer develops a major disease, the cost of treatment can still be prohibitive.
(Guangzhou Daily April 13, 2004)