China is expanding medical insurance accounts to enable them to be shared among immediate family members rather than reserved for personal use.
Set up in 1998, the State-level medical insurance system allows only insured employees to use their personal account to cover their own expenses at medical institutions.
Under a reform guideline released by the General Office of the State Council on Thursday, immediate family members-including spouses, parents and children-will be able to use the personal account of the insured.
Their expenses incurred when purchasing medical devices, medicines and medical consumables at designated pharmaceutical stores can also be covered, the guideline said.
Speaking at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office, Chen Jinfu, deputy head of the National Healthcare Security Administration, said that social progress in recent years and people's increasing need for a more convenient life have prompted the policy reform.
Another reason for the reform is preventing medical insurance fraud and enhancing management of the use of personal accounts.
"In the past, most of the people spent their money in medical insurance accounts in pharmaceutical stores, where they can buy vacuum cups and healthcare products," which are excluded from the nation's healthcare insurance system, Chen said. "We will perform more strict and comprehensive management of these behaviors."
Fan Weidong, the administration's payment security director, added that the reform defines who is included in the personal accounts as well as their scope.
"Expenses for sports, public health costs and health maintenance products can't be covered by the personal account," he said. "We will also take strict measures to crack down on insurance fraud to secure the rights of the insured."
According to a news release issued by the administration, all levels of government are required to launch specific measures for implementation by the end of this year and take three years to accomplish the reform.