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Chinese health care improves, but more reforms needed


(Voices of America) - China says it has improved the quality health care to its population, but observers say continued reforms are needed to fix a dysfunctional system that is still plagued by high costs and uneven access.

A government white paper released this week says health care reforms launched in 2009 have made medical services more affordable and accessible, and have narrowed a substantial gap between care received in urban and rural regions.

​​Beijing has set the goal of providing universal health care to all residents, both urban and rural, by 2020. To reach that objective, health care spending is projected to triple to $1 trillion annually by 2020.

China life expectancy

​​​​The government says its investment in health care is paying off.

Early Results Of China’s Historic Health Reforms: The View From Minister Chen Zhu


Health Affairs -

The success of China's major health reforms is discussed in detail by the country's Health Minister Chen Zhu, in an interview in this November's Health Affairs. Conducted by Tsung-Mei Cheng, Health Policy Research Analyst at the Woodrow Wilson School, the interview offers considerable insight into the reforms' enactment in 2009, subsequent execution, and measurable impact.

Noteworthy achievements include the expansion of health insurance coverage to more than 95 percent of the country's 1.34 billion people and the spread of community health services centers to each and every street in every Chinese city. "When people hear what this health reform has achieved in the three years since 2009, they say that it can only be achieved in China," Cheng said after the interview.

A hematologist with a doctorate in systems biology, Minister Chen has led much of the reform that has effectively closed the health insurance coverage gap between urban and rural residents.

China's latest revolution: Basic health care for all


(bikyamasr) - In a little over three years, China has managed to extend basic health-care access to more than 95 percent of its 1.35 billion population.

“This was mainly done by extending health insurance coverage and improving access to reformed and reinforced health-care facilities and services nationwide”, said Aidi Hu, a Senior social security expert from China, who works for the ILO.

The aim of the reform – which had a total cost of 850 billion Chinese Yuan (CNY) or about 133.5 billion US-dollars – was to achieve universal health-care coverage for the entire population by 2020. However, the scope and pace of changes seem more akin to a revolution than a reform.

Only a decade back, health insurance coverage was mainly for those working in urban areas under a formal employer-employee relationship. In 2003 and again in 2007, the government launched two schemes to extend coverage to rural populations and to non-working urban residents.

China calls for health system overhaul


(Wall Street Journal) - Chinese health officials on Tuesday called for additional reform of China's health-care system amid mounting costs, problems at public hospitals and a surge of patients with chronic diseases.

The call highlights the challenges the Chinese government faces even after overhauling its health-care system over the past several years. Leaders of the world's most populous country are spending billions of dollars each year to improve health care and cover costs, yet there is no correlation between the heightened spending and the health of the country's citizens, said Lei Haichao, the deputy director general of the Beijing Health Bureau, at a conference ...

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China's healthcare reform tasks completed: report

China Missions set in a three-year plan for China's healthcare reform program in the 2009-2011 period have been completed on schedule, according to a new official report.

The report said the reform efforts have brought about progress toward giving all the country's citizens access to basic medical services.

It was recently submitted to the State Council by the healthcare reform office under the State Council, according to a statement issued by the office on Monday.

Between 2009 and 2011, China's central government invested 450.6 billion yuan (70.79 billion U.S.

China's Healthcare System Thrives Despite Slowing Economy


US News: Editorial by Mr. Robert Hahn, director of economics at the Smith School, University of Oxford and chief economist at the Legatum Institute and Mr. Peter Passell, senior fellow at the Milken Institute and the economics editor of the Legatum Institute's Democracy Lab. They are co-founders of, a web portal on regulatory policy.

As has been widely reported, China's economy has stumbled in the last few months, with Beijing struggling to sustain 8-percent-plus growth in the teeth of falling demand for its exports and an overhang of domestic debt that has exposed the inefficiency of its capital markets.

China calls for universal healthcare


China Daily: Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu said here on Monday that the international community is obliged to collaborate towards common goals to achieve universal coverage of necessary health services and to overcome present difficulties together.

Chen made the remarks at the general discussion of the 65th World Health Assembly, held from May 21-26.

Noting that more than one billion people in the world do not have access to necessary health services, "the world community therefore has a long way to go and an arduous task to accomplish," he said.

Chen called on the international community to explore ways in accordance with their respective national conditions to improve health financing and social security systems, enhance the availability and affordability of medicines, and strengthen solidarity and share the responsibilities.

Chen also briefed about China's health care reform since 2009, saying that the basic medical and health security system now covers 1.295 bi

China provides universal health insurance at a fraction of the cost


The Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University: China’s demographic landscape is rapidly changing, and the government has responded by launching ambitious social and health service reforms to meet the changing needs of the country’s 1.3 billion people. This week, officials approved a five-year plan to develop a comprehensive nationwide social security network.

Karen Eggleston, the Asia Health Policy Program (AHPP) director and a Stanford Health Policy fellow, discusses the success of China’s health care reforms—including its recently established universal health care system—and the long road still ahead.

Why is the overall health and wellbeing of China’s population important globally?

There are many reasons why the health of China’s citizens matters within a larger global context. On the most basic level, China represents almost 20 percent of humanity.

Trends in access to health services and financial protection in China between 2003 and 2011: a cross-sectional study


The Lancet:

Background In the past decade, the Government of China initiated health-care reforms to achieve universal access to health care by 2020. We assessed trends in health-care access and financial protection between 2003, and 2011, nationwide.

Methods We used data from the 2003, 2008, and 2011 National Health Services Survey (NHSS), which used multistage stratified cluster sampling to select 94 of 2859 counties from China's 31 provinces and municipalities. The 2011 survey was done with a subset of the NHSS sampling frame to monitor key indicators after the national health-care reforms were announced in 2009. Three sets of indicators were chosen to measure trends in access to coverage, health-care activities, and financial protection. Data were disaggregated by urban or rural residence and by three geographical regions: east, central, and west, and by household income.

Universal healthcare is within reach


China Daily: Nearly three years ago China's State Council unveiled its plan to extend healthcare to every Chinese citizen by 2020. The ambitious plan was launched at a time when universal health coverage was building momentum globally. In June 2009 US President Barack Obama outlined his plan for a universal healthcare system in the US, vowing to "give every American quality healthcare". Indeed, most emerging economies have either officially implemented or unveiled blueprints toward universal healthcare. India, for example, also aims to have universal care by 2020.

Unlike these countries, China's pursuit of that aim has been driven by two important developments. First, an annual growth of 20-30 percent in government revenue (which outstrips GDP and income growth) has enabled (if not obliged) the government to invest in the country's long neglected healthcare sector.