The app is called Xiang Hu Bao, which means ‘mutual protection’.
It was created by mobile payment app Alipay, part of Ant Financial Services Group – which was spun out of billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba.
It is not a health insurance product, but is designed to complement other offerings that have a wider range and depth of coverage.
Most of the users it has attracted are from traditionally low income backgrounds; such as migrant workers (47%) and people who live in rural areas (31%).
Risk of fraud
Xiang Hu Bao leverages Alipay’s blockchain technology to increase trust, the company said.
Historically, fraud and a lack of transparency have made it difficult for mutual aid platforms to effectively benefit those in need, it added.
In particular those who could not afford the premiums and advance payments that are typically required with traditional commercial health insurance offerings.
As a result, Xiang Hu Bao does not require any upfront payments or admission fees and everyone using the app shares the risk and bears the related expenses, as a collective.
It is available to those aged between 30 days and 59 years who meet basic health and risk criteria.
To make a claim, supporting evidence has to be submitted via the app and go through a review and approval process.
If approved, the user will receive a one-time pay out of up to RMB300,000 (£34,139, $44,655, €39,623), which is shared equally by the other app users.
Individuals can exit the scheme at any time after any shared expenses associated with pending claims have been paid.