Nursing assistant Tang Guilian at Kangzhu Nursing Center in Beijing’s Fengtai district talks with Duan Qixiu, who received care at the center. (Photo:China Daily)
The National Healthcare Security Administration and the Ministry of Finance recently issued a document for expanding the pilot long-term nursing insurance program.
Media outlets often refer to it as the "sixth insurance" of China's social security system, which pays for the care of elderly citizens who cannot take care of themselves.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security launched this pilot program in 15 cities, including Chengde in Hebei province and Changchun, capital of Jilin province, in 2016. The program is now being extended to 14 more cities and regions, including Shijingshan district in Beijing, the Tianjin municipality and Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
The launch of the long-term nursing insurance has much to do with the country's aging population. According to the United Nations, a country is regarded as an aging society when the population of its citizens aged 60 or above accounts for more than 10 percent of the total.
According to the National Healthcare Security Administration, China's above-60 population rose to 254 million by the end of 2019, accounting for more than 18 percent of the total, and the number of disabled people among them exceeds 40 million.
There is no doubt China is turning into an aging society and the percentage of its aging population will keep rising in the next few years, as people's life expectancy keeps increasing. In this backdrop, caring for elderly citizens, especially those who cannot take care of themselves because of disabilities is becoming an increasingly important social issue.
According to an estimate by the China National Committee on Aging, China will keep on adding 10 million elderly citizens every year for the next two decades, peaking at 487 million in 2053.
To make matters worse, many families have just one or two children, which means middle-aged people today have to support more than one elderly person each, becoming a huge burden for many.
Therefore, it is good to see the government addressing this aging problem and helping build a harmonious society.