China to develop Medicare insurance

China plans to expand a basic Medicare insurance plan in the country and ascertain a coverage rate of no less than 95 percent. In 2012, the government will mete out an annual per-capita subsidy of 240 Yuan ($38.1) for basic Medicare insurance programs designed for urban and rural residents, as per a circular published on Wednesday about the country’s work arrangement in 2012 for health care reform.

The circular was issued by the State Council General Office and posted on the central government’s official website. The circular also informed authorities to enlarge the basic medicine system and enhance improve the evaluation and supervision of the quality of the drugs under the provisions, which specify a list of pharmaceuticals available under medical insurance in China.

Moreover, the circular required efforts to deepen reform of grassroots health care institutions in 2012. Reform of public hospitals, with the focus on ones at county level, should be carried forward, the circular reported, urging that efforts be made particularly in regard to hospitals’ management, funding, personnel, medicine supply and pricing systems.

The service capability of county-level hospitals should also be improved, the circular added. A pilot reform program will be carried out in about 300 county-level hospitals. The circular also called for measures to promote the development of commercial health insurance and non-public hospitals in China. It specified the government departments responsible for each task and told the central and local authorities in question to formulate their own detailed working for medicare plans before May 1.

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