Major Chinese mutual aid platforms are extending coverage in response to the outbreak of coronavirus that has turned into a pandemic.

Why it matters: Many companies in China have taken action to support those affected by the outbreak which originated in Wuhan. It has so infected over 17,000 people and taken more than 360 lives in China. Mutual aid plans are often thought to provide an added layer of protection.

Details: Chinese mutual aid platforms including Tencent-backed Waterdrop Inc., Ant Financial’s Xianghubao, and Qihoo 360’s 360 Huzhu have all extended their coverage to include coronavirus.

Screenshot of Xianghubao. (Image credit: TechNode)

Waterdrop Inc. announced on Saturday that it would temporarily include coronavirus in its coverage. A single payout could go up to RMB 60,000 (around $8,500).

  • Ant Financial also made a similar move, allowing members enrolled in the critical illness program to apply for a special aid of up to RMB 100,000. The treatment costs will not be shared among members, the company said it will shoulder the medical costs that go out to those affected by the outbreak.
  • 360 Huzhu also extended coverage of its health plans and the payout for medical treatment expenses could go up to RMB 60,000.

Context: Over the past month, China has been trying to control the spread of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

  • On Jan. 21, China’s National Healthcare Security Administration said all medicines and medical services needed to treat coronavirus will be covered by medical insurance.
  • Mutual aid platforms started gaining traction in China in 2018, especially among those who have typically been underserved by the country’s healthcare system. These platforms enable members to share treatment costs and are often more accessible and affordable option than traditional health insurance products.
  • According to the latest figures from the companies, Xianghubao has accumulated 104 million members in China. Waterdrop Inc. has around 80 million members and 360 Huzhu over 2 million users.

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email: nicole.jao.iting@gmail.com. More by Nicole Jao

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