It is imperative for China to reform its fragmented medical care systems in different regions. There are millions of migrant workers who have no permanent residency in the cities. Under the current system, policies they have taken out in their home provinces cannot be transferred when they move – they are in fact not insured.
Although the medical insurance system has been improved to give wider coverage to rural residents, children, retired people without pensions and unemployed residents, it is still riddled with problems that need to be addressed.
The government has made efforts to solve existing problems. According to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, measures have been taken to create a cross-regional medical reimbursement system. The reimbursement procedures will be simplified and the Beijing municipal government is exploring solutions to extend coverage to migrant workers in the city.
On the issues of different reimbursement levels and insufficient government subsidies for severe diseases such as liver transplantation and cancer, Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang emphasized at a meeting on July 18 that efforts should be made to combine social medical insurance with commercial insurance for severe diseases. Zhang Xinqing, head of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Labor and Social Security, said early this year that they are working on policies to make it possible for patients that suffer any of 11 severe diseases, including malignant tumors, renal dialysis, Leukemia and hemophilia, to receive further reimbursement from commercial insurance after they obtain reimbursement from social medical insurance.
In Lianyungang, the New Rural Cooperative Medical Care System has cooperated with commercial insurance. Rural residents who have already taken up the new rural cooperative medical insurance can choose to pay an extra RMB 10 to cover accidental injury. They will be able to not only receive reimbursements from commercial insurance but also be reimbursed 70 to 80 percent of the remaining sum of treatment from the new rural cooperative medical insurance. Currently over 200,000 rural residents have opted for the commercial accidental injury insurance.
Anyway, government funding is still playing the key role in providing affordable medical care. Currently the Chinese government plans to progressively increase its healthcare budget, complete the national basic medicine system, increase the maximum reimbursement amount and focus on covering the medical costs for treatment of severe diseases and common mild illnesses. It will extend the medical reimbursement rate to 70 percent for both inpatients and outpatients by 2015, reaching the same level of Western developed countries.