What’s new: Starting Sept. 1, Beijing Municipality will reduce the share of medical insurance funds deposited in the personal accounts of urban workers, joining a growing list of provincial-level regions that have enacted similar reforms.

The new rules will also no longer allow program participants to withdraw funds from their personal accounts at will, the Beijing Municipal Medical Insurance Bureau said on Friday.

The funds should only be used to pay certain medical expenses in accordance with bureau regulations, according to the announcement.

Funds deposited into accounts before September 1 can still be withdrawn for any purpose.

The background: Beijing’s reform echoes the State Council’s call last year to increase the collective accounts of the urban workers’ medical insurance scheme.

At the end of 2021, the Chinese state basic health insurance system covered 96.6% of the country’s 1.4 billion people, according to the National Healthcare Security Administration, which oversees the system.

The system includes a medical insurance scheme for urban workers which collects funds from employees and employers, and a separate scheme for the urban unemployed and rural residents. The latter is heavily dependent on central and local government subsidies due to low personal contributions.

In the urban worker scheme, funds are deposited in participants’ personal accounts and pooled in collective accounts managed by local health insurance authorities.

Group accounts are used to reimburse medical expenses for all local plan participants, while personal accounts are intended to pay personal medical expenses.

However, medical insurance experts have called for tighter control and even cancellation of personal accounts, saying the use of these funds is too loosely regulated.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for quick news that you can use. To read the full story in Chinese, click here.

Contact reporter Zhang Yukun ([email protected])

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