China Insurance Policies No Longer Cover Pangolin Scale Meds

The National Healthcare Security Administration announced last August 20, 2019, that it will no longer include pangolin scales under its insurance policies. The notice was made on behalf of the National Medical Insurance and the Human Resource and Social Security Bureau.

Based on the article released by National Geographic, pangolin scales are normally used in traditional Chinese medicines. These are often believed to address concerns and ailments of nursing mothers who are struggling with lactation issues over poor circulation.

Due to the extreme public demand, more than 200 pharmaceutical companies across 60 commercial medications are made available in the country. This demand further endangers pangolin species who are already facing extinction.

Besides pangolin scales, the National Medical Insurance and the Human Resource and Social Security Bureau will no longer include other wildlife-derived products as part of its government-funded insurance policies. The list includes corals, the hawksbill sea turtle, saiga antelope antlers, and sea horse products, reports National Geographic.

Despite removing pangolin scales and other wildlife products under the insurance policies covered by the Chinese government, the country will still allow these products for domestic trading purposes. While the advocacies of activists may not exactly be fulfilled with this compromise, Steve Given, former associate dean of the American College of Traditional Medicine, says that this move could change the way the Chinese government addresses threats of extinction.

Meanwhile, Daisy He, a lawyer working with CMS, states that the government’s decision to remove certain wildlife products may be linked to its endangered status. In addition, He believes that the Chinese government deems the pangolin scales unnecessary medication that also comes with a higher price tag.

With China’s policies slated to cover only “medicines that are necessary and reasonably priced,” the Chinese government may be making the move not only to protect this species but also to conserve its national budget.

Changes on these insurance covers are reportedly updated every few years. The new policy is expected to take effect come January 1, 2020.