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China's healthcare reform advances in right direction

By Bai Jianfeng (People's Daily)

10:04, January 30, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

China's healthcare reform has caught worldwide attention. J.P. Morgan, the World Health Organization (WHO), and U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) all provided positive reviews of China’s healthcare reform progress from different perspectives in three reports released between October and December 2011.

Certain short-term goals achieved

The WHO said in its report that China's healthcare reform has given priority to people's needs, and highlighted the role of the government in ensuring the well-being of its citizens. The Chinese government has vowed to always provide affordable and quality healthcare services for all Chinese, and made great efforts to maintain macro-economic and social stability.

Various degrees of progress in key areas

According to the three reports, although China has made significant progress in expanding health insurance coverage and improving grassroots medical infrastructure, progress has been less clear-cut on the supplier-side of reforms. Furthermore, public hospital reforms are still on a pilot basis.

The coverage of basic health insurance has expanded greatly. The CSIS said that China has been expanding the scope of its medical insurance system at a pace rarely seen in history to cover more than 1.2 billion urban and rural residents, and has achieved the 90 percent coverage rate ahead of schedule. In addition, payment systems are being nudged from fees for services to more bundled forms of payment.

Considerable progress has also been made in implementation of the national essential medicine system. The CSIS said that the essential medicine system is an institutional innovation in China. Drug prices have dropped 25 percent to 50 percent on average in areas that have adopted the essential drug system, providing practical benefits to local residents.

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Canada at 2012-01-3070.36.49.*
If China gets to the point where universal public health care is available to all, it will put the U.S. private health care to shame. Cutting prescription costs creates huge savings. Public health care in Canada is at least 10% cheaper than private for profit health care in the U.S.
  

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