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China will Open up the Market for the Old-age Service and Continue to Raise the Standard of Urban and Rural Basic Living Allowances

Medical health services have been paid more and more attention in recent years. At the 2017 Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services, the medical health service sector became a hot topic. Although the number of medical enterprises participated in the Fair was the same year on year, the penetration of the elements of old-age care and service is more obvious. The proportion of the enterprises which relate to the combination of the medical care and old-age service has reached 1/3 for the first time.

At the press conference of the State Council Information Office on February 1, Huang Shuxian, Minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, introduced that China will further raise the standard of urban and rural basic living allowances and fully open up the market for the old-age services in 2018. In addition, the focus will be on the deep poverty areas and the degree of support in funds, projects and policies will be increased.

According to the introduction, the rural basic living allowance standards of all the counties (cities and districts) nationwide have reached or exceeded the national standard of poverty alleviation. The national average standards for urban and rural basic living allowances increased by 9.4% and 14.9% respectively compared with those of the previous year. All of the counties (cities and districts) nationwide have established the coordination mechanism, led by the government leaders, for the basic livelihood security of the poor masses. The two subsidy systems for the disabled were fully implemented, which have benefited about 10 million disabled persons respectively.

"In the families which receive the basic living allowances, the basic living allowance for the special difficult masses such as the elderly, the disabled and the people with seriously ill was also moderately increased in 2017 and the expense only for this part from the fiscal expenditure at all levels reached RMB230.4 billion Yuan", said Gao Xiaobing, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Huang Shuxian expressed that in 2018, China will further raise the standard of urban and rural basic living allowances, co-ordinate the urban and rural basic living allowance systems, enhance the service support ability of the institutions which provide support to the special poor persons and increase the centralized support rate of the special poor persons who cannot take care of themselves.

In the opinion of the experts, the problem of the low income group and the elderly group in our country currently is more prominent. Yang Sui, an assistant researcher of the Rural Development Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the employment and income of the low-income workers were affected by the slowdown of the economic growth and the adjustment of industrial structure. Besides the employment security of the poor households, the government should take more measures to reduce the shocks from the economic transformation to the employment and income of the low-income families including urban poor groups. In addition, with the deep expansion of the aging of the population and with the weakening of the family old-age security function, the contradiction between supply and demand of the old-age security in our country is becoming more and more prominent.

The data show that currently the private old-age care institutions in the country have increased by 7.8% year on year and the community old-age service facilities and mutual support old-age service facilities have increased by 41.3% and 22.9% year on year respectively. Huang Shuxian pointed out that in 2018, China will continue to deepen the reform of "opening up, management and service" for the old-age care institutions and fully open up the old-age service market in order to meet the needs of the aging society.