China will continue to expand coverage of maternity insurance and explore wider implementations long-term care insurance as part of its efforts to achieve balanced population development and tackle its rapidly aging trend, the National Healthcare Insurance Administration said on Thursday.
Li Tao, vice-director of the administration, said during a news conference that 240 million people had enrolled in China's maternity insurance program, and its fund paid maternity expenses were worth 89.1 billion yuan ($12.7 billion) in total last year.
"Maternity insurance programs help balance expenditures resulting from hiring female workers, alleviate employers' concerns over recruiting women and mitigating gender discrimination at workplaces," she said.
She added that all of its provincial-level regions have released documents to ensure that female employers can access fertility subsidies and other benefits when having a third child.
In July of last year, the administration released a guideline with other government departments that require including flexible workers in local maternity insurance programs and exploring subsidizing labor pain relief and assisted reproductive services.
"We will continue to expand maternity insurance coverage, strengthen reimbursement of medical expenditures involving childbearing … so as to promote long-term and balanced development of demography," she said.
Since 2016, China has also began piloting long-term care insurance policies in 49 cities as part of its efforts to tackle an aging society and the rising number of elderly with disabilities.
By the end of last year, 169 million people had enrolled in the program and a total of 62.4 billion yuan had been paid, said Hu Jinglin, head of the administration.
"The pilot program has effectively reduced the financial burden of families with elderly with disabilities, promoted development of elderly care services and offered job opportunities for caregivers," he said. "The number of caregivers in pilot regions has risen from over 30,000 to 330,000."
Hu said that the administration will continue to carry out pilot programs while formulating a long-term plan and uniform standards this year.