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Video | Mutual aid platforms, the best alternative to commercial health insurance for millions of Chinese

Over 150 million users have joined mutual aid programs as of the end of 2019 in China.

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

The mutual aid industry is growing rapidly in China, with over 150 million users by the end of 2019. While the market is dominated by China’s first mutual aid provider, Ant Financial’s Xiang Hu Bao, other internet giants have joined the trend, such as Xiaomi’s Huzhu and Didi’s Diandi Shouhu.

Mutual aid programs are becoming a popular choice, as basic medical insurance, a part of the country’s mandatory social security program, can only cover up to 60% of medical expenses, with the remainder usually paid out of the pocket of the patient.

Unlike traditional insurance plans, this type of coverage gathers a group of mostly healthy people to mitigate each other’s critical illness risk. If someone falls ill with one of the serious conditions covered in most plans (about 60 to 100 conditions), users are entitled various sums, paid for by all the group’s members. Instead of an insurer paying out, the group’s members foot the bill.

Read more: Mutual aid plans, not health insurance, emerge as go-to coverage solution in China

According to an Ant Financial white paper released in 2020, nearly 70% of mutual aid users in China weren’t covered by commercial health insurance, while about 80% of them earned less than USD 1,180 dollars per month.

We took a look at this expanding industry, including the biggest platforms and other competitors. To learn more, watch our video.

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