On August 19, the Beijing Health Insurance Bureau issued a notice on adjusting health insurance for urban workers. It stated: “From September 1, 2022, the insured amount in the personal account will be used for special purposes and the insured person is not free to withdraw money,” which confused people.

That same day, a reporter from China Business News saw many people carrying health insurance deposit books, lining up in front of branches of the Bank of Beijing.

An employee at the bank explained to reporters that from September 1, health insurance funds will no longer be credited to health insurance discounts and funds already credited can be taken anytime.

As stipulated by the notice starting from September 1, the health insurance funds in the personal account will mainly be used to pay the medical expenses incurred by the insured employee at designated medical facilities or designated retail pharmacies. Beijing Bank stated that the fund will be managed by the city health insurance authorities, and the fund will be used for its own purposes. The insured are not allowed to withdraw money on their own. Insured people can inquire about their personal accounts by using the function “I want to check” menu on the health insurance public service platform or at claim processing counters in different districts.

Some market participants speculate that the notice will have a larger impact on deposits at the Bank of Beijing, the scale of the business has not yet been disclosed.

The bank’s 2020 financial statement mentioned that in the year 2020, the bank processed nearly 600 prepayments for the Beijing Health Insurance Bureau with the total amount of 4.02 billion yuan (about $588 million).

“Letter to customers depositing personal health insurance at Beijing Bank” issued by Beijing Bank on the same day also reminded customers that the funds deposited in the health insurance book before September 1 can still be withdrawn normally at any time.

In addition to Beijing Bank, Beijing Rural Commercial Bank, as a correspondent bank, can also perform account queries and withdraw money from health insurance savings accounts, but cannot perform operations such as linking and transferring.

The reporter from China Business News also noted that many people also went to Beijing Rural Commercial Bank to line up to withdraw cash, not just at the Beijing Bank.

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