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Everybody should enjoy public health insurance: Premier

Updated: Mar 1,2017 7:05 AM

Premier Li Keqiang talks with a hospital employee during a visit to the First Affiliated Hospital to the Henan University of Science and Technology in Luoyang city, Central China’s Henan province, on Sept 23, 2015.

Zhao Zhiyi, an employee of a hospital in Central China’s Luoyang city, is impressed with the recent changes in health insurance, such as the same level of treatment for both rural and urban residents, a higher reimbursement ratio and convenient bill payment.

Responsible for managing the health insurance accounts of patients, he still remembers a conversation with Premier Li Keqiang on Sept 23, 2015, when the Premier visited the hospital.

“Critical disease insurance must cover everybody,” Zhao remembers the Premier saying, and that statement became a promise in the Government Work Report in 2016.

Last year, over one billion people were covered by critical disease insurance, which enables them to shake off the shadow of poverty caused by the high cost of serious diseases in a family.

“It can make people feel safe,” the Premier said.

Actually, since 2009, he has done a lot to improve the public health insurance system and to make medical care affordable for more people.

In 2004, Chinese saw a doctor 2.3 billion times, while in 2009, the number of visits was 5.5 billion and in 2015, Chinese went to the doctor 7.7 billion times.

“Life is equal. So everybody, no matter in a rural or urban area, should enjoy public health insurance,” the Premier said. This is the Premier’s guideline for healthcare reform.

As the next step, he urged the government to divert more healthcare resources to grassroots hospitals, instead of concentrating those resources only in the largest cities, so that people can enjoy quality service near their homes.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, once said that healthcare reform in China can be a model for many countries.

In 2016, the International Social Security Association (ISSA) presented the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Social Security to the Chinese government for “its unprecedented extension of pensions, health insurance and other forms of social protection”.