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Think Tank Shows Concern over Medicare System
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As China's medicare system draws increasing concern from the public, members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), think tank for the government, have voiced their opinions in proposals.

"The current medicare system lacks inter-departmental coordination, owing to the absence of a platform for exchanges among medicare, pricing and health departments," said Han Zhongchao, director of the National Center of Stem Cell Engineering and Technology.

Zhang Kangkang, a female writer, also said in her proposal that public medicare should be "de-commercialized" and its profit minimized.

"By hacking down the cost and expenditure of medical treatment, we could also reduce corruption within the system, enhance supervision of funds and ensure proper utilization of medical resources," she said.

Officially set up in 1993, the new medicare system combining social mutual assistance program with personal account had been extended to 1,433 counties nationwide by last September, which account for 50.1 percent of China's total. About 406 million farmers, or 45.8 percent of the total rural population, joined the system by the end of last year.

To date, over 100 million citizens enjoy the system and could receive reimbursement when they have serious diseases.

However, Qi Ji, vice president of the No. 1 Central Hospital in Tianjin, said the coverage of the system among urban citizens is still dwarfed by people's actual need.

He suggested that development of commercial medical insurance be encouraged so as to form an "effective supplement" of the current system.

His view is shared by Zhang Kangkang. "After all, our priority for the time being is to extend the system to more people," she noted, adding that China should focus mainly on welfare medical insurance.

Chu Yaping, vice director of the Provincial Department of Supervision of China's most populous Henan Province, especially mentioned the medical insurance for migrant workers. "Their working units should ensure that they are covered by medical insurance as soon as a contract is signed."

(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2007)

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