China faces burgeoning crisis in its health-care system, experts say – Evan Osnos

From Chicago Tribune, via San Jose Mercury News (free registration required):

Mr. Li, a 64-year-old retiree with an upset stomach, reached Beijing’s most famous hospital one morning recently, ready to see a doctor. He brought a blanket, newspapers and a bag of fruit.

With any luck, he would stand in line for just 26 hours.

Lining up all day and all night for a doctor’s appointment, or buying one from a scalper for 30 times the official fee, are hardly unusual in China, where more than one-fifth of the world’s population relies on a health-care system that is failing.

Global health experts, doctors and, most recently, government officials are unanimous: China’s faces a growing crisis. Government investment in has declined radically for two decades, sending hospitals and doctors on a chaotic foray into the free market and leaving hundreds of millions of Chinese without affordable or competent service.

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