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Rural Medicare Covers 91% of Population

China's rural cooperative medical insurance system, launched in 2003 to offer basic health care to rural residents, covers more than 91 percent of its target population, a spokesman of the Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

Mao Qun'an said 804 million rural residents had joined the system as of the end of March, accounting for 91.05 percent of the rural population.

Rural medical cooperatives have expanded to 2,679 counties, county-level cities and city districts, covering approximately 98.17 percent of the country's rural areas, Mao said.

The government has promised to extend the system to all rural areas by the end of this year.

Under the original scheme, a participant was to pay 10 yuan (US$1.45) a year, while the state, provincial, municipal and county governments supplied another 40 yuan to the fund.

At present, the fund pool has been raised to 100 yuan, with a split of 20 yuan from the participant and 80 yuan from the governments.

Mao said 12 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had reached or exceeded the goal.

However, provinces in the middle and western parts of China failed to meet the standard, mainly because individuals in poverty-stricken areas hadn't increased their participation.

The provinces plan to increase the fund to at least 100 yuan per person in 2009, he said.

(China Daily July 11, 2008)

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