BEIJING, April 7, 2009 -- The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and China's State Council jointly issued a guideline on fixing the ailing health care system on April 6 after over five months of debate and revision. It kicked off the long-anticipated reform to ensure health care service is more accessible and affordable to the country's 1.3 billion people.
Innovative ideas employed to make the health care system accessible and affordable to both urban and rural residents
It is the core principle to provide all Chinese people with basic health care as a public service, and to make the health care system more public oriented, says Liu Xinming, an official with the Ministry of Health in charge of medical policies and regulations.
Establishing a public health system covering both urban and rural residents complies with the scientific outlook on development, and highlights the principle of equality and justice, Liu adds.
Professor Huang Jianshi with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences says that most countries worldwide have placed the equality of health and medical service as a top priority. The core principle of a medical care system is to strengthen government responsibility, make medical care service affordable to urban and rural residents alike and promote social harmony and equality.
Professor Li Ling with China Centre for Economic Research notes that basic medical and health care services, if regarded as public products, will cover the country's 1.3 billion people. It will serve as a milestone in China's medical and health cause.
Major breakthrough planned to make health care service accessible to all Chinese people
According to the new plan, the government will set up diversified medical insurance systems in order to have urban employees, urban residents who do not work or are self-employed, and rural residents covered by some sort of insurance plan in the next three years. Subsidies provided by fiscal authorities at various levels will be increased to 120 yuan per person in 2010. China plans to push forward the implementation of basic medical insurance for urban residents in 2009, particularly for the old, the disabled and children.
The ratio of those covered by the basic medical insurance is expected to pass 90 percent by 2011.
Many Chinese residents suffer enormous difficulties with rising medical bills and face medical debt due to lack of health insurance and soaring medical and health care costs. Professor Cai Jiangnan with Fudan University says that expanded coverage provided the basic medical care system in the new reform plan will put an end to the lack of the proper medical treatment for urban and rural residents and soaring medical bills.
Major targets set to ensure urban and rural residents to enjoy equal public services
It is one of the major targets for medical reform to ensure equality of public medical services for both urban and rural residents.
Professor Ma Jin with Shanghai Jiao Tong University says that every citizen is entitled to enjoy basic medical services regardless of gender, age, race, profession, residence and income.
Professor Wang Hufeng with the Renmin University of China notes that public medical service is a kind of public product, which needs financial support from the government. Government institutions can afford some of the services, and others can be achieved through purchase.
Policies fermented to grant subsidies to public hospitals
Reform of public hospitals is the top focus of the ongoing medical and health care reform. State-run hospitals have been heavily depending on profits from medical services and drug prescriptions for their operating expenses. The profit-driven method of management has resulted in heavy burdens on patients and led to a waste of medical resources.
The plan calls for the government to provide subsides for medical equipment, and aims to cut the involvement of public hospitals with drug sales to cut drug prices, medical supply prices and medical checkup fees.
The income of state-run hospitals will come from two channels: service fees and fiscal subsidies. The income from drug fees in the past will be made up by the newly added medical service fees and government investment.