Elderly care program goes citywide

An insurance program helping with the costs of caring for the elderly is to be extended citywide after a trial run in three districts.?

A pilot insurance program for senior citizens needing long-term nursing care will expand from three districts to the entire city from January 1.

The program targets citizens aged 60 or more who need long-term care no matter where they stay — at home, nursing homes or hospitals — as long as they are covered by public medical insurance.

There are more than 4.3 million citizens aged over 60 in Shanghai, or 30 percent of the population with permanent residence permits, while 7 percent of the senior citizens have partly or completely lost the ability to care for themselves and need long-term nursing services.

It is estimated there are 40,000 caregivers in the city, who can visit private homes or take care of the elderly in institutions, according to Xu Hong, director of the medical insurance supervision division of the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau.

Almost 600 nursing homes in the city have been approved to take part in the program and more are expected to join later, said Zhou Ji, director of the Shanghai Medical Insurance Administration Center.

Some 27 organizations have been set up with more than 10,000 evaluators to assess applicants’ health and their eligibility for care under the program. Once on the program, people in hospital will have their nursing fees paid for according to the basic medical insurance system.

Those living in private residences or nursing homes will have 85 to 90 percent of nursing services paid for by the insurance fund.

The program began in Xuhui, Putuo and Jinshan districts in January this year after Shanghai was authorized by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security as one of the 15 cities to pilot the long-term nursing insurance scheme.

It received about 25,000 applications from the three districts by the end of October and 14,000 have been approved to join the scheme.

These include a couple in Jinshan where the 92-year-old husband was stricken by cerebral infarction while the 87-year-old wife suffers from Alzheimer’s. They both needed professional care and were sent to a welfare house in the district by their son Liu Agui, who in his 60s.

Retirement pension

“Their living expense and costs of nursing service and medicines bring high burdens to our family,” Liu said. “These cost almost all our retirement pensions, including theirs and mine.”

When he heard the insurance program was to be piloted in Jinshan, he immediately applied. 

“Now, the insurance fund pays 1,530 yuan (US$234) for my parents each month and it reduced my burden,” he said. “I’m really grateful to the government for introducing the new policy.”

Individuals and employers don’t have to pay premium now as it uses part of the existing public medical insurance funds.

Those looking to avail of the policy, can apply at their local application center. Addresses and contact information will be on the websites of the Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau (www.12333sh.gov.cn), the Shanghai Medical Insurance Administration Center (www.shyb.gov.cn) and the service platform for elderly people (www.shweilao.cn).

Hotlines 12333 and 962218 are also available.

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