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Integrated urban-rural medical insurance to benefit patients

Updated: Aug 22,2016 3:13 PM Daily

By July this year, 17 provincial regions in China had integrated the new-type rural cooperative medical system and basic medical insurance for urban residents to promote medical fairness and bring more benefits to people.

In the past, medical reimbursement for urban patients was higher than for rural patients with the same symptoms at the same hospital, but now the gap is narrowing.

Thanks to medical insurance for urban and rural residents and aid for serious illnesses, a patient surnamed He in Ningxia autonomous region, who has acute lymphocytic leukemia, only paid half of his total treatment fees of more than 800,000 yuan ($120,000).

Basic functions of the medical insurance system are raising funds, sharing risks and providing purchase services, and insurance provides financial guarantees for patients and helps them avoid getting trapped into poverty after treatment, said Professor Zhu Junsheng from Capital University of Economics and Business.

Integrating medical insurance for urban and rural residents has increased the number of designated medical institutions, providing more options for the insured patients. And with the increased number of participants, medical funds’ scale has been expanded to significantly improve its risk-prevention.

Some regions have many patients with serious illnesses, and medical funds may be out of balance and the increase in participants and expanded funds may provide sustainable medical guarantees, said Professor Chu Fuling from Central University of Finance and Economics.

The integration also helps boost the development of grassroots level health institutions by increasing the rate of medical reimbursements to encourage patients to seek medical advice at basic health institutions.

Under the premise of guaranteeing medical service levels, measures were taken to lower the costs for patients and prevent some hospitals from treating patients multiple times when one treatment is sufficient, according to a person in charge from the medical insurance management bureau of Hangzhou. The city saw its medical fund expenditure decrease 9.2 percent year-on-year after the integration.