China will expand medical insurance to cover all critical illnesses for all urban and rural residents by the end of the year, Reuters reported.
The State Council announced Sunday this latest step in a plan to improve the country’s healthcare system, which has been the subject of many complaints from the public.
In a statement posted on the government’s website, China’s cabinet said 50 percent of the medical costs will be covered by insurance in an effort to “more effectively reduce the burden of medical expenses”.
President Xi Jinping’s government has promoted access to affordable healthcare as a key platform of his administration, underscoring the importance of meeting the needs of China’s nearly 1.4 billion people, many of whom have often complained of large out-of-pocket expenses resulting from low levels of insurance coverage.
Many people say the cost of serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes can bankrupt households under the current system.
The aim of expanding health insurance was to “effectively alleviate poverty caused by illness” and to build a strong universal healthcare system, the State Council said.
Economists say it is crucial for China to improve the quality of its healthcare if it wishes to remake its economy and boost domestic consumption.
They say a stronger safety net will encourage Chinese to spend more and save less.
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