China’s critical illness insurance system has run smoothly since its launch last year, and the central government plans to further promote it, despite facing challenges, Huang Hong, vice-president of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, said at a news conference in Beijing on Oct 19.
“Increasing numbers of people in China are benefiting from the policy,” he said. “It is an innovative approach to healthcare reform, which is a difficult task facing many countries worldwide.”
In China, basic medical insurance offers little funding or protection, and critical illnesses can leave a family broke due to high treatment costs.
Since last year, the government has adopted a policy whereby a small percentage of the basic medical insurance fund is used to buy commercial insurance to increase the protection offered.
For the first nine months of this year, critical illness insurance payouts averaged 7,138 yuan ($1,060) per patient, with the highest payout totaling about 1.12 million yuan, Huang said.
“It effectively helped poor people with critical illnesses to receive proper medical treatment,” he said.
According to the commission, funding for the insurance varies from 15 yuan to 60 yuan, depending on individual cases and the region of the country.
At present, 16 insurance companies operate 605 insurance projects, covering 920 million people in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.
“Many people can now receive medical treatment that they could not afford before,” Huang said.
In terms of supervision, Huang said insurance companies found a total of 436,700 faulty claims and rejected improper medical expense claims amounting to 2.27 billion yuan last year, which contributed to alleviating the rapid growth of medical expenses and preventing excessive medical treatment in some areas.
Huang said there are still improvements to be made to the critical illness insurance system. For example, local governments should implement reforms of payment methods and control increasing medical expenses caused by excessive treatment.
Huang said most medical insurance companies realized meager profits, but some of them are operating at a deficit.
“Some insurance companies are too confident about their own ability and underestimate the complexity of the critical illness insurance system,” he added.