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Minister: Healthcare network to cover all

Source: China Daily | 03-04-2009 10:11

Special Report:   2009 NPC & CPPCC Sessions

China aims to expand its medical insurance to cover all citizens and upgrade services through its new healthcare reform package, Health Ministry Chen Zhu said at the ongoing CPPCC session.

The government will put the 850-billion-yuan (US$124 billion) plans into action from Jan 21 following public criticism over soaring medical fees, a lack of affordable services, poor doctor-patient relationships and low insurance coverage.

"We will improve medical insurance systems and services to ensure both equality and efficiency when it comes to healthcare," the minister said.

The package lists public health, rural areas, urban community services and basic medical insurance as the four key areas for government investment. It also promises to tighten control on medical fees in public hospitals, with a "basic medicine system" set up to include a catalog of the most prescribed medicines to ease concerns of rising drug costs.

Chen admitted there would be pressure to make the plan happen, with cooperation vital, especially in areas such as in attempts to eliminate the chronic prescribe-for-pay phenomenon.

But he assured new cooperative medical systems in rural areas, expansions to urban community health services and public health will be top priorities for government investment.