Reimbursement for injury-induced medical expenses in Chinese social medical insurance schemes: A systematic analysis of legislative documents

Academic Article


  • Social medical insurance schemes are crucial for realizing universal health coverage and health equity. The aim of this study was to investigate whether and how reimbursement for injury-induced medical expenses is addressed in Chinese legislative documents relevant to social medical insurance. We retrieved legislative documents from the China National Knowledge Infrastructure and the Lawyee databases. Four types of social medical insurance schemes were included: urban employee basic medical insurance, urban resident basic medical insurance, new rural cooperative medical system, and urban and rural resident medical insurance. Text analyses were conducted on all identified legislative documents. As a result, one national law and 1,037 local legislative documents were identified. 1,012 of the 1,038 documents provided for reimbursement. Of the 1,012 documents, 828 (82%) provided reimbursement only for injuries without a legally responsible person/party or not caused by self-harm, alcohol use, drug use, or other law violations, and 162 (16%) did not include any details concerning implementation. Furthermore, 760 (92%) of the 828 did not provide an exception clause applying to injuries when a responsible person/ party could not be contacted or for situations when the injured person cannot obtain reimbursement from the responsible person/party. Thus, most Chinese legislative documents related to social medical insurance do not provide reimbursement for medical expenses from injuries having a legally responsible person/party or those caused by illegal behaviors. We argue that all injury-induced medical expenses should be covered by legislative documents related to social medical insurance in China, no matter what the cause of the injury. Further research is needed to explore the acceptability and feasibility of such policy changes.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gao Y; Li L; Schwebel DC; Ning P; Cheng P; Hu G
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 3