Integration of current identity-based district-varied health insurance schemes in China: implications and challenges

Front Med. 2012 Mar;6(1):79-84. doi: 10.1007/s11684-012-0179-5. Epub 2012 Mar 31.


With China's great efforts to improve public health insurance, clear progress has been achieved toward the ambitious full health insurance coverage strategy for all. The current health insurance schemes in China fall into three categories: urban employee basic health insurance scheme, urban resident scheme, and new rural cooperative medical system. Despite their phasic success, these substantially identity-based, district-varied health insurance schemes have separate operation mechanisms, various administrative institutions, and consequently poor connections. On the other hand, the establishment and implementation of various health insurance schemes provide the preconditioning of more sophisticated social health insurance schemes, the increase in the income of urban and rural people, and the great importance attached by the government. Moreover, the reform of the "Hukou" (household register) system provides economical, official, and institutional bases. Therefore, the establishment of an urban-rural integrated, citizen-based, and nationwide-universal health insurance scheme by the government is critically important to attain equality and national connection. Accordingly, the differences between urban and rural areas should be minimized. In addition, the current schemes, administrative institutions, and networks should be integrated and interconnected. Moreover, more expenditure on health insurance might be essential for the integration despite the settings of global financial crisis. Regardless of the possible challenges in implementation, the proposed new scheme is promising and may be applied in the near future for the benefit of the Chinese people and global health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Community Networks
  • Health Care Reform
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health / organization & administration*
  • Rural Health Services / organization & administration