Billionaire Jack Ma\u2019s Ant Financial has done more than perhaps any company to disrupt China\u2019s gargantuan banking and asset-management industries. Now it\u2019s trying to re-imagine health insurance. Ant\u2019s Xiang Hu Bao, which means mutual protection, has attracted 50 million people since its October inception, or more than five times the population of New York City. The product operates somewhat like a collective, in which members contribute evenly to payouts of as much as 300,000 yuan ($45,000) when a participant falls critically ill. It\u2019s free to sign up, there are no premiums or upfront payments, and disputes about claims are adjudicated by volunteer members, according to a statement from the company on Thursday. In return for managing the process, Ant will take an 8 percent administrative fee out of every payout. Also read:\u00a0Realme 3 and Opus S3: These Androids have good design, decent price Ant, best known for the Paypal-like Alipay service that underpins Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.\u2019s online shopping platform, is re-designing financial products from money market funds to consumer credit that have long been dominated by state-owned Chinese behemoths. The company\u2019s foray into health care comes at a time when the country is grappling with a rapidly aging population, one of the more pressing long-term threats to the world\u2019s second-largest economy. Ant said Thursday it hopes to sign up 300 million Xiang Hu Bao users within two years, which would represent more than 20 percent of China\u2019s population. \u201cAnt can reach out to millions of users at a pace that traditional insurers can\u2019t,\u201d said Steven Lam, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. \u201cThis was the actual insurance model hundreds of years ago. They\u2019re going back to the basics.\u201d Ma\u2019s company joins a raft of startups angling to disrupt old-school health insurance in China, including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Sinovation Ventures-backed Waterdrop. Beijing-based Waterdrop crowdfunds from 78 million users and paid out more than 95 million yuan to members in the four or so months ended October, according to its website. The products may help fill a yawning gap in medical protection for the world\u2019s biggest population as its rate of critical illnesses soars, partly due to more expert diagnoses. As of April, almost a third of Xiang Hu Bao\u2019s members hailed from poorer rural areas, while nearly half were migrant laborers. Ant says Xiang Hu Bao isn\u2019t an insurance product and thus isn\u2019t subject to the same regulatory oversight governing traditional industry players like Ping An Insurance Group Co. Anyone between the age of 30 days and 59 years can join, provided they meet basic health criteria. As more people participate, the costs of the plan are spread more widely. Given the growing user base, every member should pay no more than 0.1 yuan for every critically ill person, according to Ant. It covers a list of no more than 100 ailments. If a dispute over claims arises, a jury consisting of hundreds of thousands of pre-approved users will vote on whether to pay out compensation. Ant plans to leapfrog early adopters of the model by tapping the hundreds of millions of people that use its Alipay and money-market fund operator Yu\u2019E Bao. Payments are deducted from users\u2019 Alipay account on the 14th and 28th of every month, and anyone with a decent credit score can join. To combat fraud, Ant is using the same blockchain technology that underpins digital currencies like Bitcoin, which rely on common verification by members. Members who fall critically ill within 90 days of joining the plan will not be compensated.