NewsMillions of Chinese unable to afford health treatment. "It's not my priority"

Millions of Chinese unable to afford health treatment. "It's not my priority"

Millions of Chinese people have to give up health insurance.
Millions of Chinese people have to give up health insurance.
Images source: © Getty Images | Grant Faint
ed. MZUG

6:04 AM EST, December 12, 2023

In 2022, 19 million Chinese individuals withdrew from the state health insurance system, as reported by the "Financial Times". High insurance premiums have put it out of their financial reach, a development that spells trouble for the Chinese economy.

Official data from 2022 indicate that the number of people covered by the Chinese state-subsidized health insurance system decreased by a staggering 19 million. Experts caution that this downward trend is projected to persist in 2023. A drop was noted in the first nine months of this year in seven provinces, relative to the corresponding timeframe from the previous year.

Mounting Health Costs for Many Chinese

The minimum amount due for the primary health insurance policy has more than doubled since 2018, while the rise in average salaries of migrant workers over the same period was just 24%. This is according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Furthermore, policyholders in rural regions have to bear hefty co-pay amounts, sometimes amounting to 50-70% per hospital visit in major cities.

State officials and healthcare analysts attribute the sharp increase in resignations, following years of growth, to several factors. These include rising premiums and co-payments, limited coverage, and decreasing household incomes. This has rendered health insurance costs impractical for many Chinese inhabitants, particularly farmers and migrant laborers without access to more advantageous urban and private benefit programs - states "Financial Times".

A rural construction worker from the central Hubei province, mentioned by "FT", disclosed that he ceased his annual premium payments of 380 yuan (around $59) this year after several months of unemployment.

"I need to maximize the use of my limited savings. Health insurance isn't my priority," remarked Li.

It seems that this issue could potentially negatively influence the recovery of the world's second-largest economy, which has struggled to uplift consumer sentiment due to a prolonged slump in the real estate sector and weaker exports.

In October, experts pointed out that China's housing sector was undergoing a "significant slowdown". From peak levels in 2020-2021, sales have plunged by around 30% and started construction by 60%. Property prices in numerous cities have declined by 10-20% relative to their 2019-2021 peaks. Analysts highlighted that approximately 5.6 billion square feet of property is under construction or has been completed but remains unsold.

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