The rural cooperative medical insurance system initiated in 2003
to offer farmers basic healthcare now covers about 86 percent of
the rural residents of the pilot areas, Health Ministry spokesman
Mao Qun'an said yesterday.
"By September 30, about 726 million farmers had joined the
scheme, accounting for 86 percent of the rural population in the
pilot areas," Mao told reporters.
The system covers 2,448 counties, county-level cities and city
districts, or approximately 85.5 percent of rural areas, Mao
Participants pay 10 yuan ($1.35) a year to join the scheme, seen
by many as a way to help farmers with virtually no medical
State, provincial, municipal and county governments supply
another 40 yuan per person to the fund.
When rural residents fall seriously ill, the pooled funds cover
part of their medical costs. Coverage varies according to the type
of illness and costs of treatment.
Mao said 35.3 billion yuan had been pooled by the fund in the
first nine months of this year.
The fund paid out about 22 billion yuan during the same period
in reimbursements, Mao said.
Some 84.7 percent of the money went to in-patient charges, and
13.4 percent to out-patient services.
The spokesman said the ministry has asked local health
authorities to keep close watch on the money in the fund.
In 2006, the county government of Xichuan, Henan Province, was found to have stolen
712,000 yuan from the fund by inflating the number of farmers
"All the money has been recovered, and the head of the Xichuan
health bureau was dismissed from his post," Mao said.
The director of the county's medical cooperative insurance
management office and the heads of five township hospitals were
Senior officials of another 10 township hospitals received
(Xinhua News Agency November 13, 2007)