HOHHOT, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- Yan Bainu, 78, who has been confined to her bed for over a decade, was visited by a doctor in her home for the first time on Sunday.
Local doctor Liu Xia went to her house in Wuyuan County of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to establish her medical record, diagnose her and give her a prescription.
"Getting medical care used to be a challenge," said Yan's grandson Zhang Lei. "We had to carry grandma on our backs for a long distance to the county hospital. It took the efforts of the whole family."
During harvest season, Yan's peasant family found it even harder to spare time for hospital trips.
A new home care service offered in Wuyuan County since August saves Zhang from having to make these trips. "After we enrolled, the doctor would come weekly to examine grandma and teach us about daily care," he said.
Zhang can also contact the doctor for medical assistance at any time. "We feel we have a private doctor for grandma," he said.
The home care service, offered by the Wuyuan county government, provides in-home care to senior citizens with chronic diseases, disabled and poor rural residents, said Zhang Bingyu, director of the county's office for managing rural medical insurance.
"The patients can reimburse home care expenses at the same rate as in the local hospitals," said Zhang Bingyu.
Yang Wushisi, a patient who lost his mobility due to heart disease, said he had to spend about 500 yuan (74 U.S. dollars) each month on medication. His family only earns about 1,700 yuan per month.
The trips to the hospital bring even more costs, Yang said. "I often don't have enough money for regular health examinations," he said.
With the new service, patients can reimburse up to 350 yuan per month and up to 4,200 yuan annually.
Yang said enrolling in the home care service freed his family of a big burden.
Disease is the primary cause of poverty in rural China, as 42 percent of the population living in poverty became poor due to disease, according to the poverty relief office under the State Council.
"Home care service is an important part of targeted poverty alleviation in the county," said Zhang Bingyu.