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Chinese health coverage increases with new government efforts
Date:12/5/2011

gram was limited to a few pilot rural counties and did not include financial subsidies for the rural population.

However, after 2000, the coverage rate in villages began to rise, almost tripling between 2004 and 2006, from 17.9 percent to 51 percent. Rates also rose significantly in towns and suburbs during that time frame, but changed only modestly in cities. The dramatic rise in rural coverage rates coincided with the efforts to develop new insurance programs and provide increased subsidies for rural participants.

Short was surprised by the magnitude of change in rural villages. "It is especially impressive to see this pattern in data such as these, that follow the same individuals over time," she said. "We are witnessing real change in many people's lives in the way that urban, and especially rural, individuals experience health insurance coverage."

Reimbursement Rates

While the analysis shows higher rates of individual coverage, it also suggests that disparities may persist in the quality of insurance. Xu and Short found that residents of cities, suburbs, and towns experienced higher reimbursement rates for outpatient and inpatient care than insured villagers, indicating that insured urban residents continue to have an advantage over insured rural residents. However, the authors state that these results should be interpreted with caution due to incomplete self-reported reimbursement rates.

"The findings from this research highlight the recovery in health insurance coverage in general and more importantly the significant reduction in the rural-urban inequality in the coverage in particular largely due to the great efforts by the Chinese government, in a quite short time period," said Xu, a faculty fellow at the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research at Michigan. "On the other hand, the suggestive finding of continued rural disadvantage in terms of health insurance benefits suggests we should not
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Contact: Deborah Baum
deborah_baum@brown.edu
401-863-2478
Brown University
Source:Eurekalert  

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