Ant Financial, an Alibaba affiliate, on Wednesday launched a mutual aid plan for seniors aged between 60 and 70.
The new product is an extended version of Ant Financial’s online healthcare platform Xiang Hu Bao, which means “mutual protection,” that was launched in October 2018.
The company said Wednesday that as of April 30, Xiang Hu Bao had 57 million registered users and helped 36 users get payouts to cover their medical fees.
Xiang Hu Bao, offered through Ant Financial’s online payment platform Alipay, requires no premiums. Users are free to sign up. It functions like a collective. When a member suffers from an illness, other members contribute evenly to payouts.
The platform has established an online “jury panel” to examine and approve applications. It needs a majority of the jury’s votes to pass a payout application.
Ant Financial said the version of Xiang Hu Bao for seniors offers payouts of up to 100,000 yuan (US$14,700) if a member is diagnosed with cancer.
Though Xiang Hu Bao for seniors is not an insurance product, it lowers the barrier for seniors to obtain basic health protection against cancer, said the company.
At the end of 2018, China had 250 million citizens over 60 years old, accounting 17.9 percent of the country’s total population. There is a big demand for health protection products, especially among the senior and elderly population.
The fast-growing aging population will pose challenges to the country’s economic development, as the country’s expenditure in healthcare, pensions and other areas related to elderly citizens is projected to rise from 7.33 percent of the country’s GDP to 26.24 percent from 2015 to 2050, according to a report issued by the Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Aging Well Association.
The country should further improve its healthcare and social security systems to address the rapid aging of the population, said Liu Yuanli, director of the CAWA and chief editor of the report.
China’s National Health Commission has released a working plan with 12 other government departments to boost the health of the elderly.