Establishing a Basic Rural Medical Security System
Since 1998, the establishment of an urban employees’ basic medical insurance system has been considered one of the key reform projects in China, for which significant progress has been achieved. However, still no clear approaches or policies address the medical security problems of farmers, who make up of the absolute majority of the population. Due to profound changes in the social and economic structure, the cooperative medical system has been subject to overall decline since the 1980s, causing about 90% of the rural population to be without any medical security and to pay medical expenses out of their own pockets. Although the state put forward the task of restoring and reconstructing cooperative medical services in the 1990s, yet for various reasons this decision has yet to bear any fruits. The slow growth of farmers’ income cannot keep up with the rapid increase of medical costs. Numerous poor farmers are plunged into such a predicament as they find themselves without resources to obtain medical treatments and purchase drugs. In recent years, the health of a significant number of farmers has even been deteriorating. A large number of farmers have been reduced or reversed to poverty due to illness, which not only directly imperils the life of these poor families but also affects the results of China’s poverty alleviation strategy. Farmers’ health problems have become major problems that cannot be ignored.