New health insurance guidelines provide role for social organizations

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China’s General Office of the State Council issued new guidelines on Nov 19 designed to improve how the national insurance system works for those with a critical illness. The guidelines outline the role that charities, internet fundraising platforms – including platforms specifically dedicated to raising funds to treat critical illness, social workers and volunteers should play in treating the seriously ill.

The guidelines encourage charities and other social organizations to set up critical illness relief projects to play a “supplementary role” in the system. Currently, people who are eligible are able to participate in basic medical insurance in accordance with the law, which provides them with at least three types of assistance — basic medical insurance reimbursement, serious disease insurance reimbursement and social assistance from their local civil affairs department.

It’s necessary to promote development and effective collaboration between the existing social insurance system and important supplements like charity organizations and commercial insurance companies, according to the guidelines.

Financial support is crucial in the critical illness assistance system, and the guidelines emphasize the necessity of broadening funding channels, mobilizing social forces, raising money through multiple channels, and better coordinating the use of funds.

The guidelines also promote the development of online public fundraising information platforms and the sharing of charitable resources between them. They also push for more regulations on the release of information to set up online personal critical illness assistance platforms trusted by the public.

Regarding the development of social work services and voluntary services in the field of medical assistance, the guidelines clearly state that social forces should be encouraged to participate in the handling of medical assistance services, with a focus on improving their digitalization and effectiveness.

“Social workers and volunteers can assist in various fields of medical assistance, including psychological-social support, and social resource integration, as well as the management of doctor-patient relationships, volunteers and community health services,” the guidelines state.

A series of measures is also suggested, including an incentive mechanism for charitable participation, tax incentives, fee reductions and other policies, while civil affairs departments are urged to support the development of charitable assistance, to implement clearer standards on identifying the recipients of assistance, and to share information with relevant organizations.