China Moves to Curb Health Costs

A new plan would have Beijing buy and distribute medicines at lower cost, the Financial Times reports:

The measures are part of an Rmb850bn ($124bn, €88bn, £75bn) overhaul of the country’s ailing health system, aimed at securing basic medical services for every citizen and increasing efficiency and transparency in drug use.

When Beijing began reforming its communist economy 30 years ago it discontinued free healthcare for all and, by 2000, the majority of the population was uninsured. Although the authorities have since tried to build a new healthcare system, large numbers of rural residents and migrant workers still cannot afford healthcare.

“By 2003, 30 per cent of poor households in the government’s National Health Survey were reporting healthcare costs as the main cause of their poverty,” the World Bank said in a report on health reform in China this year.

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