Nearly 80 percent of rural residents in China had joined the cooperative healthcare network by April, the Ministry of Health said here Monday.
Health ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an said a total of 685 million farmers from 2,319 counties had joined the network by March 31.
About 74 million people who were hospitalized or underwent physical examinations were able to benefit from the scheme during the first quarter of 2007, according to Mao.
Under the cooperative healthcare scheme, initiated in 2003, a participant pays 10 yuan (US$1.3) a year, while the state, provincial, municipal and county governments supply another 40 yuan (US$5.2) to a medical fund. Contributors are then entitled to discounts, provided by the fund, on their medical expenses.
According to a five-year (2006-2010) government health plan released on June 7, the Chinese cooperative healthcare network will cover all rural residents by the end of 2010.
(Xinhua News Agency June 12, 2007)