Restoring faith in those who restore life

By Alexandre Lesto
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 8, 2011
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Every country faces its own struggles with health care. The United States and France, nations possessing the expertise, the financial power and the equipment to effectively provide medical care to its citizens, have grappled with the difficulties of finding the right equilibrium. It should come as no surprise then that China is also mulling worriedly over the health care enigma.

The United States, after years of internal political debate, finally passed new legislation in 2010, yet Americans still spend more money per person than any other nation. France, named by the World Health Organization as the best performing system in the world for availability of health care with 99.9 percent of its population covered, is now confronted with rising costs of prescription medication, increasing employment, and a large aging population.

Though the general health of the Chinese population has improved substantially since 1949, with an average life expectancy which nearly equals most developed nations, numerous difficulties have bubbled to the surface.

1. Scarce and unevenly distributed resources

The greatest deficiency in the system appears to be unequal distribution of resources. While over 300 million people in China currently lack insurance, a 2011 study revealed the doctor-to-population ratio to be approximately 1:1063. This would seem to be a reassuring figure, were it not for the fact that 80 percent of medical care provided is concentrated in cities, leaving certain rural areas entirely devoid of timely treatment options.

Equally detrimental is the apparent rigidity of the current system, where health program policies are often based on residency. Insurance plans are often hindered with specific clauses explicitly stating out-of-area expenses will not be covered. This exacerbates the geographical gap which currently exists within China.

2. Prescription drugs as a money-making tool

In China, doctors generally earn a living through two means: their basic salary, and prescription-based remuneration. With the current system keeping wages low, the latter money-making method has led to immoral practices, where the most expensive drugs are prescribed even if they are not the best option.

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