SHANGHAI Aug 28 China will encourage more
private investment in health insurance, part of Beijing's push
to open up its overburdened healthcare sector, the official
Xinhua news agency said late on Wednesday.
The government will also support private insurance firms in
the building of new medical facilities and elderly care homes,
Xinhua said, citing an executive meeting of the State Council,
China's cabinet, on Wednesday.
The report comes one day after Beijing said it will allow
foreign investors to wholly own hospitals in seven cities and
China's healthcare spending is set to hit $1 trillion by
2020, up from $357 billion in 2011, according to McKinsey & Co,
attracting a rapid inflow of money from private insurers,
hospital operators and other investors.
Private health insurance in China has been growing quickly.
In 2013, commercial insurance premiums grew 30 percent, faster
than the 18 percent for the state-backed sector, according to a
Deutsche Bank report in June.
China's largest private health insurers include Ping An
Insurance Group Co of China Ltd, PICC Health
Insurance, Kunlun Health Insurance and Hexie Health.
Around 90 percent of China's near-1.4 billion people are
covered by state health insurance schemes, but coverage is
usually limited and a large portion of medical fees are often
paid out of pocket.
Chinese hospitals also suffer a lack of funding and there is
a large gap in quality between urban and rural care, often
leading to high rates of bribery that has made it harder for
China's poor to get access to healthcare.
Beijing will also look to increase expenditure on medical
services, looking to expand its healthcare service sector to a
value of 8 trillion yuan ($1.3 trillion) by 2020, Xinhua said.
(1 US dollar = 6.1426 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)