Two years have passed since the Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Deepening Reform of the Medical and Health Care System was issued. The document aimed to build a medical and health care system with Chinese characteristics and gradually enable everyone to have access to basic medical and health care services. What has been achieved in the health reform? What are the priorities for next step? How can we make breakthroughs in some important fields and crucial links? Correspondence interviewed Sun Zhigang, Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission and Director of the Health Reform Office of the State Council, to find some answers.
A basic medical insurance system that covers all residents in urban and rural areas has taken shape.
Q: What has China achieved in health reform over the past two years?
A: For two years, all regions and involved departments have focused on ensuring basic health services, strengthening services capacity at the community level and establishing a mechanism. They have steadily carried out health reform and achieved continuous positive results.
At the moment, 1.26 billion residents in urban and rural areas have joined basic medical insurance schemes respectively. A basic medical insurance system featuring medical insurance for urban residents and employees, as well as a new rural cooperative medical scheme and urban and rural medical assistance, is taking shape. It covers all residents in urban and rural areas. At the same time, the benefit of urban and rural health insurance schemes have improved. Subsidies for urban resident medical insurance and the new rural cooperative medical scheme have risen from 80 yuan ($12.85) to 120 yuan per person every year. Hospitalization expense reimbursement rate of employee medical insurance, urban resident medical insurance, and of new rural cooperative medical secheme was raised to 75 percent, 60 percent and 60 percent respectively.
About 60 percent of government-funded medical institutions at the community level have adopted the essential drugs system, which was first promoted in eight provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities), such as Anhui and Jiangxi provinces. Essential drugs were marked down by 30 percent on average after zero-profit sales. Health institutions at community level have been witnessed with reduced costs in outpatient services and hospitalization, and a rising number of outpatients. The public has seen their drug costs significantly cut at medical institutions at community level.