China Health Care Reform Aims To Help Rural Areas

From USA Today:

Li Xiufen, whose family tills rice fields high in the terraced-carved hills of southwest China, had to borrow $730 from other villagers when she needed stomach surgery two years ago — a debt that remains unpaid.

When her husband, Zhang Wenkai, 54, contracted meningitis last year, she begged him to go to the hospital, but he refused.

“We didn’t have enough money for the hospital fees,” says Li, 56. “So he died at home.”

Li’s loss highlights how China’s market-oriented system in the past few decades has priced health care beyond the budget of many Chinese in rural areas. That is about to change.

The Chinese government announced a $124 billion, three-year overhaul of its health care system that calls for building a clinic in each of the country’s 700,000 villages, expanding medical insurance and capping the cost of hundreds of prescription drugs.

May 6, 2009 8:37 PM
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