Benefit distribution of social health insurance: evidence from china’s urban resident basic medical insurance

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Equity is one of the essential objectives of the social health insurance. This article evaluates the benefit distribution of the China’s Urban Residents’ Basic Medical Insurance (URBMI), covering 300 million urban populations. Using the URBMI Household Survey data fielded between 2007 and 2011, we estimate the benefit distribution by the two-part model, and find that the URBMI beneficiaries from lower income groups benefited less than that of higher income groups. In other words, government subsidy that was supposed to promote the universal coverage of health care flew more to the rich. Our study provides new evidence on China’s health insurance system reform, and it bears meaningful policy implication for other developing countries facing similar challenges on the way to universal coverage of health insurance.

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