China’s Healthcare Choice: Innovation or Access?
Friday, June 7, 2013
This spring, the world watched closely as Chinese officials responded rapidly to a new avian flu virus. In addition to closing poultry markets and monitoring patients, Chinese physicians and public health leaders are collaborating with international experts and the World Health Organisation. China’s healthcare system is demonstrating far greater capacity and responsiveness than in the 2003 SARS scare.
Ten years of reforms to China’s healthcare system have significantly increased the availability of government-backed insurance and basic care to the world’s largest population. Analysts predict that healthcare spending in China will grow to $1 trillion by 2020, triple present levels. The public is benefiting from improved care, longer lifespan, and a decrease in infant mortality. Nevertheless, tensions are apparent as people pay directly for care, hospitals build VIP suites for wealthy patients, and doctors have financial incentives to prescribe brand-name drugs.