Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

BMJ Global Health






e000477 (13 pg.)


INTRODUCTION: Migrants are a vulnerable population and could experience various challenges and barriers to accessing health insurance. Health insurance coverage protects migrants from financial loss related to illness and death. We assessed social health insurance (SHI) coverage and its financial protection effect among rural-to-urban internal migrants (IMs) in China.

METHODS: Data from the '2014 National Internal Migrant Dynamic Monitoring Survey' were used. We categorised 170 904 rural-to-urban IMs according to their SHI status, namely uninsured by SHI, insured by the rural SHI scheme (new rural cooperative medical scheme (NCMS)) or the urban SHI schemes (urban employee-based basic medical insurance (UEBMI)/urban resident-based basic medical insurance (URBMI)), and doubly insured (enrolled in both rural and urban schemes). Financial protection was defined as 'the percentage of out-of-pocket (OOP) payments for the latest inpatient service during the past 12 months in the total household expenditure'.

RESULTS: The uninsured rate of SHI and the NCMS, UEBMI/URBMI and double insurance coverage in rural-to-urban IMs was 17.3% (95% CI 16.9% to 17.7%), 66.6% (66.0% to 67.1%), 22.6% (22.2% to 23.0%) and 5.5% (5.3% to 5.7%), respectively. On average, financial protection indicator among uninsured, only NCMS insured, only URBMI/UEBMI insured and doubly insured participants was 13.3%, 9.2%, 6.2% and 5.8%, respectively (p=0.004). After controlling for confounding factors and adjusting the protection effect of private health insurance, compared with no SHI, the UEBMI/URBMI, the NCMS and double insurance could reduce the average percentage share of OOP payments by 33.9% (95% CI 25.5% to 41.4%), 14.1% (6.6% to 20.9%) and 26.8% (11.0% to 39.7%), respectively.

CONCLUSION: Although rural-to-urban IMs face barriers to accessing SHI schemes, our findings confirm the positive financial protection effect of SHI. Improving availability and portability of health insurance would promote financial protection for IMs, and further facilitate achieving universal health coverage in China and other countries that face migration-related obstacles to achieve universal coverage.


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Original Publication Citation

Chen, W., Zhang, Q., Renzaho, A. M. N., Zhou, F., Zhang, H., & Ling, L. (2017). Social health insurance coverage and financial protection among rural-to-urban internal migrants in China: Evidence from a nationally representative cross-sectional study. BMJ Global Health, 2(4), e000477. doi:10.1136/bmjgh-2017-000477