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Medical Insurance reaches 95% of China

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Chinese people living in rural areas had more medical cover than people in cities in 2011, according to Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu.

China.org.cn reported that basic medical cover in China’s rural areas reached 97% in 2011, while this figure was around 89% in urban areas. In total, 95% of people had access to medical insurance in China in 2011.

Chen announced the figures at a national work conference on Thursday, citing records in 2003 when only 55% or urban citizens and 21% of rural citizens were covered.

Chen attributed the progress to reform in the country’s health care system which has brough “positive structural changes” in recent years.

As well as a wider reach, the percentage of total medical costs paid by patients decreased from 60% in 2001 to 36% in 2010, with government funds paying the rest.

In his address, Chen outlined his major objectives for the future, including a four year campaign against subsidising services with drug sales.

It’s crucial to thoroughly carry out the campaign, as such practices have led to higher medication costs and corruption,” said Chen.

One of the campaign’s pilot programs will be executed in 300 counties this year and is expected to cover all county level hospitals by 2012, according to the minister.

Chen also proposed new solutions for doctor-patient disputes.

Specialized institutions or social organizations should be formed or incorporated to receive and handle disputes, Chen said, adding that third-party mediation and medical liability insurance may also be helpful.