[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: China has implemented the New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS) in rural areas since 2003 to provide financial protection to its rural population. This article explores the effect of NCMS on relieving catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) among the poor and non-poor groups.
A questionnaire survey was conducted in three counties, with a random sample of 358 poor and 523 non-poor NCMS enrollees who used inpatient services and obtained NCMS reimbursement in 2005.
Majority of NCMS enrollees suffered CHE because of using inpatient services; the occurrence and intensity of CHE was greater among poor inpatients. NCMS reimbursement helped relieve CHE to a certain degree. Poor inpatients benefited more from NCMS than non-poor, but the effects varied among counties. Cost control measures and other medical financial assistance (MFA) helped reduce inpatients' economic burden.
The objective of NCMS is only partly achieved. However, NCMS has promoted equity in health financing as poor inpatients can acquire more protection than the non-poor. Our analysis suggests that efforts should be made to improve NCMS design, strengthen cost containment and extend other MFA to further relieve economic burden of disease.
Preview · Article · Feb 2010 · Tropical Medicine & International Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years, the central government in China has been leading the re-establishment of its rural health insurance system, but local government institutions have considerable flexibility in the specific design and management of schemes. Maintaining a reasonable balance of funds is critical to ensure that the schemes are sustainable and effective in offering financial protection to members. This paper explores the financial management of the NCMS in China through a case study of the balance of funds and the factors influencing this, in six counties in two Chinese provinces. The main data source is NCMS management data from each county from 2003 to 2005, supplemented by: a household questionnaire survey, qualitative interviews and focus group discussions with all local stakeholders and policy document analysis. The study found that five out of six counties held a large fund surplus, whilst enrolees obtained only partial financial protection. However, in one county greater risk pooling for enrolees was accompanied by relatively high utilisation levels, resulting in a fund deficit. The opportunities to sustainably increase the financial protection offered to NCMS enrolees are limited by the financial pressures on local government, specific political incentives and low technical capacities at the county level and below. Our analysis suggests that in the short term, efforts should be made to improve the management of the current NCMS design, which should be supported through capacity building for NCMS offices. However, further medium-term initiatives may be required including changes to the design of the schemes.
Full-text · Article · Apr 2009 · International Journal of Health Planning and Management