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Basic Medical Insurance System Covers 221 Mln People

More than 200 million Chinese were covered by basic medical insurance at the end of 2007, the labor ministry said on Monday.

Yin Chengji, spokesman for the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), said at a press conference that the basic medical insurance system covered 221 million people, up from 157 million in 2006.

The medicare insurance sector saw a drastic increase of more than 60 million in the number of people insured last year, including 7.6 million migrant workers, said Yin.

Yin also revealed that 201 million people were covered by a pension scheme, up from 187 million.

The basic pension insurance system provides a monthly amount of 963 yuan (about US$132) per month, up from a monthly sum of 693 yuan per month three years ago.

The government has pledged to raise the monthly amount by 100 yuan each year for the next three years.

The basic medical insurance and pension systems are part of China's preliminary social security system, which also includes work injury insurance, unemployment insurance and maternity insurance.

Last December, the country began drafting its first comprehensive law to regulate its social security system and safeguard the management and operation of the system.

According to the law, pension and unemployment insurance would cover all full-time employees, excluding public servants; the medical insurance would cover all employees; work injury and maternity insurance would cover all employees, excluding public servants.

Institutions in charge of fee collecting could directly transfer fees from the employers' bank accounts if they failed to pay enough insurance to its employees with the social security administration's approval, the draft law said.

It also said those who fabricate documents to embezzle the social security fund must return the funds and be fined twice or five times the amount they swindled.

(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2008)

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