Caixin
Mar 10, 2023 06:35 AM
CHINA

Covid Vaccinations Cost China $21.5 Billion Over Two Years

What’s new: China spent 150 billion yuan ($21.5 billion) in 2021 and 2022 to vaccinate the world’s largest population against Covid-19, according to the National Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA).

The expenses include the purchase of vaccine shots and inoculation costs, paid by the state-run medical insurance fund and fiscal subsidies, according to the administration.

In 2022, the medical insurance fund paid 4.3 billion yuan for nucleic acid testing for Covid infections, the administration said. The spending mainly covered tests required for patients to be admitted by hospitals.

Why it matters: Public concern mounted over the balance of the national medical insurance fund after China deployed massive nucleic acid testing across the country under the “zero-Covid” policy, which sought to eliminate the virus.

In May 2022, the NHSA prohibited localities from using money from the medical insurance fund to pay for mass Covid tests. According to the policy, routine tests should be paid out of local government funds while the medical insurance fund would cover tests required for patients by hospitals. The cost of a nucleic acid test ranges between 3.5 yuan and 16 yuan per person.

Vaccination costs are mainly covered by the medical insurance fund with 30% of the spending reimbursed by local governments.

Income of the medical insurance fund totaled 3 trillion yuan in 2022 with spending of 2.4 trillion yuan. The balance of the fund stood at 4.3 trillion yuan, NHSA data showed.

As of the end of 2022, China’s basic medical insurance system covered 1.35 billion people, 1.3% fewer than the previous year, or 95% of the total population, the NHSA said. The decline reflected statistical adjustments, the administration said.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (bob.simison@caixin.com)

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