China will expand its urban medical aid system to the whole
country in the first half of this year year, said Wang Zhikun, an
official with the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Tuesday.
China started to experiment with an urban medical aid system
in2005, under which government subsidizes urban low wage earners
when they are sick and unable to afford to go to hospital.
By now, the system has been set up in 2,560 counties, accounting
for 89 percent of all counties. While in China's rural areas, a
similar subsidy system has already been set up.
In Guiyang of southwest China's Guizhou province, for example,
urban low wage earners can apply for a special medical aid if the
medical charges are more than 800 yuan (about 106.67 U.S. dollars)
in a year.
These measures have made it is easier for more than 51,000 low
wage earners in the city to receive medical care.
Wang, who is deputy director of the ministry's minimum living
level guarantee department, said funds allocated from financial
departments, welfare lottery and public donation will jointly
contribute to the aid system together.
Soaring medical costs in recent years have plunged many rural
and urban Chinese back into poverty as a result of the government's
failure to implement an adequate medical insurance network after it
cut subsidies for medical costs in 1992.
China plans to reform the present system so that common people
can enjoy universal basic services at reasonable prices, and
China's long-awaited reform plan for its health care system will be
released in March shortly after the top legislature's annual
session, said Health Minister Chen Zhu earlier this month.
(Xinhua News Agency January 31, 2008)