China's rural cooperative medical insurance system, initiated in
2003 to offer farmers basic healthcare, has expanded to cover more
than 85 percent of the country's rural residents, China's health
ministry spokesman Mao Qun'an said on Monday.
"By Sept. 30, about 726 million farmers had joined the scheme,
accounting for 85.96 percent of the rural population in the pilot
areas," Mao said at a press briefing.
Meanwhile, the rural medical cooperatives have expanded to 2,448
counties, county-level cities and city districts, covering
approximately 85.53 percent of the country's rural areas, Mao
The four-year-old scheme, seen by many as a way to help Chinese
farmers with virtually no medical insurance from being vulnerable
to accidents or disease, requires 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 the fund.
When rural residents fall seriously ill, a proportion of
hospital expenses will be covered from the pooled insurance. The
rate of reimbursement varies according to different kinds of
illness and the actual cost of medical expenses incurred.
China's Health Minister Chen Zhu said earlier that a total of
24.147 billion yuan (US$3.17 billion) was pooled for the fund
within the first half of this year. About 13.34 billion yuan was
used during the same period as reimbursement to the farmers.
According to a five-year (2006-2010) government health plan
released on June 7, the cooperative healthcare network will cover
all rural residents by the end of 2010.
(Xinhua News Agency November 12, 2007)