Shenzhen launches health program

Shenzhen, Guangdong province, officially launched a commercial medical insurance program on Tuesday as part of its efforts to alleviate residents' health burdens and develop a multitiered healthcare system.

The program, known as huiminbao, is a supplement to Shenzhen's basic medical insurance program. It has been listed as one of the city's major projects for improving public well-being in 2023.

Anyone who has participated in the city's basic medical insurance is entitled to sign up for the new program. By paying premiums of just 88 yuan ($12.70) per year, policyholders would receive coverage exceeding 3 million yuan.

People can register for the program until the end of June, with the insured period running from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024.

"It will provide an effective supplementary guarantee for policyholders and ease their medical burdens when they suffer from serious illnesses, especially when high medical costs are incurred," said Shan Youliang, deputy director of the Healthcare Security Bureau of Shenzhen.

According to Shan, huiminbao is an upgraded version of Shenzhen's critical illness insurance, a commercial medical insurance program launched in 2015 that aims to offer supplementary medical security for enrollees of the city's basic healthcare program.

Since the implementation of the critical illness insurance program, the cumulative number of insured has reached approximately 54.8 million, with compensation payouts amounting to 1.63 billion yuan.

Compared with the critical illness insurance program, the upgraded one features wider coverage and six value-added services, including early screenings for cancer, health appraisals and illness evaluations, said Chen Xun, general manager of the Shenzhen branch of China Life Insurance Co.

High-priced drugs for rare diseases and some medicines under the Hong Kong and Macao Medicine and Equipment Connect program — which enables designated mainland hospitals to use drugs and medical devices approved by the SARs without prior certification from the National Medical Products Administration — are also covered in the latest program, he added.

Shenzhen is not the only Chinese city that has unveiled such insurance products.

According to an April report released by Fudan University and WeSure, the insurance-agency platform of internet giant Tencent, 263 huiminbao products had been launched by over 80 insurance companies in 29 Chinese provinces by the end of last year, with the total number of insured reaching 298 million.

"As the birthplace of the huiminbao program, Shenzhen has witnessed its growth. Now, such insurance has entered the stage of high-quality development and has gradually become an important link between basic medical insurance and commercial insurance," said Tang Zhijiang, director of the life insurance division of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission Shenzhen Office.

He said the office will strengthen its supervisory role to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the public.