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China overhauled their health care system as a result of the failure and collapse of the old state-funded health system which existed before China’s program of economic reforms in the 1980s.

The New Rural Co-operative Medical Care System (NRCMCS) is a new 2003 initiative to overhaul the healthcare system, particularly intended to make it more affordable for the rural poor. Nowadays the permanent urban population (except migrants) take out medical insurance. But the poor, many of them in the countryside, go into debt to pay their medical bills or go without treatment. Many in the rural areas struggle to afford with the new burden of healthcare fees, a result of the collapse of the old state-funded health system which existed before China’s program of economic reforms in the 1980s.

The annual cost of medical cover under the NRCMCS is 50 yuan (US$7) per person. Of that, 20 yuan is paid in by the central government, 20 yuan by the provincial government and a contribution of 10 yuan is made by the patient. As of September 2007, around 80% of the whole rural population of China had signed up (about 685 million people). The system is tiered, depending on the location. If patients go to a small hospital or clinic in their local town, the scheme will cover from 70-80% of their bill. If they go to a county one, the percentage of the cost being covered falls to about 60%. And if they need specialist help in a large modern city hospital, they have to bear most of the cost themselves, the scheme would cover about 30% of the bill.

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