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Seminar on “Research on Regional Development Models of Commercial Health Insurance in China” Successfully Held

On March 26, 2024, the China Development Research Foundation (CDRF) held a seminar on “Research on the Regional Development Model of Commercial Health Insurance in China” in Beijing.Li Wei, Vice Chairman of China Economic and Social Council (CESC), former Director of Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC), and former Chairman of China Development Research Foundation (CDRF), and Zhou Yanli, former Vice Chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), delivered keynote speeches. Fang Jin, Vice Chairman and Secretary General of China Development Research Foundation (CDRF), and Jennifer Osika, Vice President of International Affairs (Asia) of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), delivered welcoming speeches. Yu Jiantuo, Deputy Secretary General of CDRF, presided over the meeting.

Fang Jin said that commercial health insurance, as an important part of China's multi-level medical insurance system and complement to basic medical insurance, should play a greater role in meeting the diverse needs of the people and managing health risks. In recent years, China has been promoting the development of commercial health insurance and carried out a series of explorations in typical regions, with innovative initiatives and system reforms emerging to address key issues. He pointed out that studying the development of regional commercial health insurance is crucial to exploring the future development trend of commercial health insurance in China.

Osika pointed out that as health expectancy continue to rise, Chinese citizen’s demand for quality healthcare continues to grow, commercial health insurance can be a key component to meeting  future demand. With the support of the project research, PhRMA has gained a clearer understanding of the local practices and development trends of commercial health insurance in China, and will continue to work to promote the healthy development of China's commercial health insurance market in the future.

Li Wei pointed out in his keynote speech that as a young industry, development of commercial health insurance in China is still insufficient and unbalanced. It is visible in four aspects: insufficient market development, unbalanced supply structure, imperfect governance system and insufficient service capacity. At the same time, it is necessary to recognize a regional imbalance, which is due to a variety of factors such as the local economy, local policy, waiting period, and other factors. Collaboration is necessary to addressing this imbalance.

He suggests that as commercial health insurance market expands and matures, the market and the government should work in a joint direction. On the one hand, differentiated regional business strategies should be developed, with a focus on better knowing and serving needs beyond basic health insurance and by developing diversified and personalized insurance products. On the other hand, local governments should actively create favorable conditions for the innovation and development of market players, stimulate product and service model innovation, improve supervision, and provide policy support from various aspects. In addition, the fundamental issue is to clarify the respective responsibilities between the government and the market, and to create a stable, fair and sustainable institutional environment for the development of commercial health insurance on the basis of the strict implementation of the basic system and policies of national health insurance.

Zhou Yanli, former Vice-Chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, summarized three aspects of the development of “huiminbao” (known also as urban customized commercial health insurance) in China. In terms of the operation of insurance products, large-sized cities with abundant financial revenues can accommodate the healthy competition of a number of such products. On the other hand, in small- and medium-sized cities, where finance is tight, it is more difficult to maintain multiple products simultaneously, and as a result, some cities have seen its sale suspended. From the perspective of commercial insurance companies, huiminbao has enabled insurance organizations to take on more responsibility in welfare, and has also promoted the innovation of commercial insurance products. From the perspective of health insurance policy, encouraging cooperation between medical institutions and insurance organizations will play a positive role in improving individual health management and reducing medical costs.

Zhou Yanli suggested that we should comprehensively summarize experiences and improve the institutions according to local conditions, so as to make huiminbao commercially sustainable and find a balance between product cost and service quality. In addition, it is necessary to make full use of digital technology, improve digital operation capabilities, give full play to big data to monitor collection and payment, use “data + scenario” to accurately implement policies, promote the networked and digitalized services of huiminbao, and enhance the capabilities of special treatment and medicine, health consulting services, etc., so as to promote the development of huiminbao.

Yu Jiantuo reported the main findings of the research: the development of commercial health insurance is an inevitable choice for building and perfecting China's multi-level medical insurance system, with huge development potential, but currently lagging significantly behind expectations. The current development of commercial health insurance is constrained by both supply-side factors and demand-side factors, but supply-side factors play a dominant role. The research shows that there are significant regional differences in the development of China's commercial health insurance market, which requires model innovation tailored to local conditions. Huiminbao provides an opportunity for the development of commercial health insurance in China, but there are still many constraints in practice, existing practical experience needs to be incorporated and basic institutional framework unified. In addition, it is necessary to fully draw on international experience to realize appropriate and fair insurance coverage and sustainable development of commercial health insurance in China. In view of this, the future development of commercial health insurance should expand the coverage targets and implement differentiated regional development strategies; expand insurance policy coverage, and promote multi-agency cooperation; improve the risk management capacity, to enable the sustainable development of the insurance industry.

Prof. Jin Weigang, Vice President of National Institutions Research Institute of Zhejiang University and Vice President of China Social Security Society, Prof. Jin Chenggang of School of Social Development and Public Policy of Beijing Normal University, Prof. Wang Jian, Executive Director of Center for Health Economics and Management of Wuhan University, Prof. Zhu Minglai, Director of Center for Health Economics and Medical Security of Nankai University, and Prof. Xu Xian, Director of Department of Risk Management and Insurance of Fudan University also shared their main findings and policy recommendations. Kevin Haninger, Vice President of International Policy, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), and Jens Gruger, European Partner and Director, Boston Consulting Group, made excellent comments on the research results.

During the round table discussion, Mao Qun'an, Director of the Department of Planning and Information of the National Health Commission, Shang Jingguo, Member of the Party Committee and Secretary General of the Insurance Association of China, Li Xiaolin, Professor and former Dean of the School of Insurance of the Central University of Finance and Economics, Liu Tingjun, President and COO of Taikang Insurance Group, Shao Liduo, Secretary of the Party Committee and President of the People's Insurance Company Limited of China, Bai Kai, Vice President of China Life Insurance Company Limited, Liu Tingjun, President of Taikang Insurance Group, Qian Yun, Vice President of Pfizer China, Liu Chang, Vice President of Boehringer-Ingelheim Greater China, and Chen Jian, Vice President of Xi'an Janssen Pharmaceutical Company Limited spoke on how to promote multi-party participation and the construction of a multi-level medical insurance system.