CHINA - Less than 24 per cent of migrant workers in eight urban areas are covered by public health insurance in the cities in which they work, according to a recent study.
Researchers who compiled the report, which was released on Sept 25 at the Sino-German Symposium on the Social Integration of Migrant Populations, used a series of indexes developed by Chinese and German experts to measure how migrant populations in China integrate into cities in which they live and work.
The team surveyed 16,000 people aged between 15 and 59 living in eight cities, including Shanghai and Suzhou. The researchers found that only 23.6 per cent of migrant workers have public health insurance.
Only 22.7 per cent have pension insurance and 24.8 per cent have insurance against work-related injury, the report stated.
"Cities in East China, especially the ones in the Yangtze River Delta, are seeing the largest proportion of migrant workers covered by insurance. The figures in cities in Central China are smaller. Cities in the western part of the country have the smallest proportion of migrant workers covered by insurance," said Yang Juhua, team leader and professor at the population development studies centre of Renmin University of China.
Although most migrant workers from rural areas have health insurance provided by their hometown, they usually receive lower reimbursement if they seek medical service in another province.
Migrant workers need to get insured again in the province where they move for work. Yet unstable employment leads to low insurance coverage, according to another study released earlier this year, the 2013 Report on China's Migrant Population Development.
"Some of the migrant workers travel to work in big cities from their rural hometowns only when they are not occupied with farm work and shuttle frequently between the cities and their hometowns, and some of them tend to change employers frequently from province to province," said the report.
Lin Wanming, deputy mayor of Quanzhou, said that of more than 2 million migrants in the city, 30 per cent are covered by public health insurance, which is higher than the average.
"This is both a result of economic development and the government's efforts," he said. "Also, most of the migrants who are insured have already settled down in the city and have been living here for more than 10 years, so they are willing to pay for insurance."
Many migrant workers do not sign an official and valid contract with their employer, and the Social Insurance Law has not stipulated how an employer will be punished for not paying for its employees' insurance, making it easy for companies to get away with it, the 2013 migrant report added.