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China increasing coverage of serious illness insurance

China will expand a program that enables people with serious illnesses to get more compensation from medical insurance plans to all the country’s regions in 2014.

According to a statement issued by the State Council medical reform office on Saturday, pilots of such programs should be launched in all the country’s provincial-level regions by the end of June this year.

The new move is aimed at reducing the number of cases in which people are reduced to poverty by the burden of medical fees, the statement said.

Six Chinese authorities issued a circular in 2012 on the program, stating that part of the funds collected in the current basic medicare insurance plans for urban and rural residents could be used to purchase commercial medical insurance, so that a greater proportion of the medical fees of people with serious diseases will be covered.

A latest circular issued by the medical reform office said that local finance, human resources and social security, civil affairs, health and insurance authorities should collaborate for the expansion of the program, according to Saturday’s statement.

There should be more efforts to raise public awareness of the program so as to make the benefits easier for people to secure, it said.

The statement added that the quality and the expenditure of medical services should also be scrutinized to curb unreasonable medical treatments and fees.