Insurance coverage

China expands long-term care insurance coverage for people with disabilities

BEIJING — To promote the well-being of people with disabilities, China has steadily expanded its long-term care insurance trials, which are currently being conducted in 49 cities and covering 145 million people.

An institutional system specially designed for people with disabilities, long-term care insurance offers its recipients care guarantees and tax assistance.

Expand coverage, more services

Official statistics showed there were about 40 million disabled or partially disabled elderly people in China – a priority group in trials of the insurance system launched in 2016.

“So far, the trials are going smoothly,” said Fan Weidong, an official with the National Healthcare Security Administration. With a set of specified disability assessment criteria, scope of coverage and treatment standards, payment methods, management and operating protocols, the insurance system policy framework was established. .

Over the past six years, the scope of beneficiaries has expanded to include urban and rural residents and flex-job workers, in addition to early-career urban employees.

In total, the insurance system registers 1.72 million beneficiaries, with an average annual reimbursement of about 16,000 yuan per capita, Fan said.

Over the years of development, the pilot areas are also actively adapting the services covered by the insurance.

Taking Shanghai as an example, the city provides 27 home care services as well as 15 joint clinical care services.

According to Fan, the number of institutions providing long-term care insurance services has increased by nearly 5,000 in recent years, and the number of people directly providing long-term care services has reached nearly 300,000.

Further optimization

After years of development, long-term care insurance trials have achieved remarkable results. However, there is still room for improvement on aspects such as diversified funding mechanisms, implementation of evaluation standards and effective service delivery.

Most of the pilot cities have set up a multi-channel financing mechanism involving units, individuals, health insurance funds and public finance. However, medical insurance funds are still overstretched and funding levels vary widely from region to region, pending new regulations at the national level.

Experts called for efforts to formulate a unified item list and guidance catalog for long-term care insurance services, as well as detailed quality assessment standards, and motivate pilot areas to include more urban and rural residents in the system.