Monday, October 20, 2008

You Can Go Home Again: China returning to Socialized Medicine?

Wall Street Journal Decries Recent Health Policy Moves of China

by Phil E. Benjamin

The British medical journal, the Lancet, has developed a very long and deep discussion on the health policies of the People' Republic of China. Too study that series go to the Lancet website and view, "Health System reforms in China."

Once heralded for their 'barefoot doctors' who brought primary care health care to every part of China, their reputation dropped when in the early 1980s, the whole health system seem to be abandoned and privatized. The results were not good.

Now, as reported extensively in the Lancet; but, now in the Wall Street Journal [Oct 20, 2008], the government seems to be moving back toward its original socialist principles. The Journal article, interesting since that newspaper represents the corporate interests seeking to profit from that country of $1.5 billion people, reports that, "China has unveiled an ambitious plant to achieve universal health care." They report that under current conditions, much of the population is without health care coverage; and for those with coverage there are significant out of pocket charges. The new system will change all of that.

The WSJ reports that the new system will cover over 90% of the population within just 2 years; and the rest by 2020. And, we all know, when the Chinese government makes these projections, they are usually on target with their goals.

The news article also highlights that, "One major point in the draft is to return to the nonprofit motive for national health care."

Clearly, according to this report and the Lancet, the central government will play the central finance role in the system. This is especially true with hospitals.

Keep tuned for more on this. If anyone else has more information, please respond to this blog.