BEIJING—China has taken another step toward improving its social safety net by boosting subsidies for basic medical coverage, in a move to help the poor and in turn stimulate consumption.
The government will increase subsidies for each resident in both rural and urban areas by 40 yuan ($6.4), or about 14%, to 320 yuan this year, the Ministry of Finance said in a statement on its website Tuesday.
The subsidies, which cover only relatively mild illnesses and not catastrophic diseases, will be tilted toward the less-developed western and central areas of the country. That means that rural residents, who are often hit hardest by high health care costs, will get proportionately more help from the state as Beijing looks for ways to make health care more affordable for its 1.3 billion people.
Experts say the Chinese government has been looking for ways to rebalance the disparity in social-insurance coverage, which favors urban citizens. They get better coverage through a funding system that relies on a mix of employee and employer contributions.
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