BEIJING, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government will raise its subsidies for rural residents' medical insurance in 2013, Minister of Health Chen Zhu announced on Monday.
Under the new rural cooperative medical program, the annual government subsidy for each rural resident will be increased from the current 240 yuan to 280 yuan (44.94 U.S. dollars), Chen said at the national health work conference in Beijing.
Under the program, rural residents will pay a 60 yuan-per person premium, bringing the total funds pooled for each person to 340 yuan, up from 290 yuan in 2012.
China launched the rural insurance scheme in 2003 in a bid to ensure that the country's vast number of rural residents have access to affordable medical treatment and to reduce disease-triggered poverty.
The amount of people covered by the program has skyrocketed from 80 million to 900 million, and the average fund pooling standard has risen from 30 yuan in 2003 to the current 290 yuan.
Also at the conference, Chen said health concerns must be factored into social and economic policy-making and health risk assessments must be conducted prior to the launch of major industrial projects, as the country is increasingly affected by non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
According to the Medical and Health Services White Paper released in Dec., 260 million Chinese live with NCDs, and deaths resulting from NCDs represent 85 percent of the country's total deaths.
The two-day conference, which opened on Monday, also awarded model doctors and those who have made excellent contributions to carrying out the new rural cooperative medical program.