China is in the black for the health insurance company and is responding to concerns

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A man receives a swab test at a nucleic acid testing station following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Beijing, China, July 14, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/

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HONG KONG, July 23 (Reuters) – China’s national health insurance fund ran a small surplus last year, a health agency said on Saturday, a rare disclosure after public concerns the fund is losing money amid massive COVID-19 testing.

The fund received 2.88 trillion yuan ($441 billion) in revenue in 2021 while spending 2.4 trillion yuan, the National Healthcare Security Administration said in a statement on its website.

The financial balance of the National Health Insurance Fund, which provides basic health care for most of China’s 1.4 billion people, is not normally disclosed.

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China’s nationwide COVID testing this year has sparked online discussions about the state of the fund, with some social media users fearing the testing would deplete the fund and threaten meeting people’s medical needs.

Health care affordability is a sensitive issue in China. Costs are often high, as hospitals set inflated prices for some drugs and medical supplies, and doctors have a history of overprescribing. The government has started reforming the pricing mechanisms for some medical and hospital services to curb excessive profits. Continue reading

“Overall, the fund is balanced, with a small balance. The amount of income and expenditure corresponds to the level of economic development,” said the authority.

The statement responded to questions from some netizens about whether certain drugs were being removed from the list of reimbursable drugs by some local governments because health insurance companies didn’t have enough money, the statement said.

“The answer is an absolute no,” it said.

China’s national health insurance program will offer full reimbursement for some drugs on the list and partial reimbursement for others until the annual restructuring.

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Reporting by Xie Yu; Adaptation by William Mallard

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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