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Soaring Medical Costs a Top Concern

Rising medical costs have become the top concern for Chinese people, according to a new survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which was released Tuesday.

The survey of 101,029 families across the nation, the seventh by the NBS to find out the things that make the public "feel unsafe," revealed that 15.3 percent of those polled chose "medical and health services" as their major concern. Declining social morals, which was ticked by 14.3 percent of those polled, ranked second.

Other factors that caused people great concern included educational problems, unemployment, corruption, pollution, food quality and work security.

Growing public criticism of soaring medical fees, lack of access, poor doctor-patient relations and the low coverage of the medicare system had compelled China to launch a new round of medical reform.

The reform, made public at the end of last year, would increase government responsibility and input, and aimed to provide universal basic coverage at reasonable prices.

China first started its medical service reform in 1992 to abolish a system under which governments covered more than 90 percent of expenses.

However, soaring medical costs had plunged many rural and urban Chinese back into poverty.

(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2008)

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