BioScience Trends. 2018;12(3):215-219. (DOI: 10.5582/bst.2018.01054)

Reducing the medical economic burden of health insurance in China: Achievements and challenges.

Dou GS, Wang Q, Ying XH


The aims of this study were to describe health insurance reforms initiated by the Chinese government over the past two decades, to review their achievements in reducing the medical economic burden, and to summarize the challenges that still exist regarding a further reduction in out-of-pocket expenditures in this country. China has successfully attained the goal of providing health insurance coverage to almost the entire population by developing a mixed health insurance system, which consists of Urban Employees Basic Medical Insurance (UEBMI), Urban Resident Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI), New Rural Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS), and supplementary Catastrophic Health Insurance. Despite this achievement, China is still facing the challenges of a disparity in the medical economic burden by region and by health insurance scheme, relatively little protection from financial risk compared to developed countries, as well as low efficiency and quality of care under current payment systems. To further reduce the disparity in the medical economic burden and to increase the overall protection from financial risk in China, the Government should increase central government transfers to NCMS and URBMI enrollees in poor regions and increase the total amount of government subsidies to NCMS. In addition, China should improve the efficiency and quality of health insurance by further reforming the payment system.

KEYWORDS: Out-of-pocket expenditure, health insurance, health care expenditure, China

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