China Moves to Enact Unified Medical Insurance Plans

In January 2016, China’s State Council issued new guidelines that could potentially lead to a unified national health insurance plan. The new proposal seeks to unify various urban and rural healthcare schemes in an effort to ensure that all Chinese citizens have equal access to medical care.

At present, China provides three separate medical insurance plans; two of which are meant for urban citizens and one for those that live in rural areas. Wealthy urban residents typically have better access to modern hospitals and well trained physicians, and the new guidelines will harmonize insurance payments, reimbursement, and coverage throughout the country. These changes may lead to higher insurance premiums for rural residents. Local governments have been asked to propose specific insurance merger plans by the end of 2016.