One Billion Lives and Counting: The Future of China’s Health Care Policy

China is currently in the middle of reforming its healthcare system, a decision that will affect over 1.3 billion people for years to come. Moving from historically state-sponsored care to market-oriented care and now to a combination of the two, China has struggled to find a structure that works for its diverse population. Public health problems carry important implications for political stability. Thus far, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has relied on performance-based legitimacy to secure its own political future. Only by constantly improving social welfare and economic growth does the CCP reinforce its own authority. However, China’s slowing economic growth means that the government can no longer ignore institutional failures, such as its healthcare system, that are beginning to bring its legitimacy into question.[1. William C. Hsiao, “The Political Economy of Chinese Health Reform,” Health Economics, Policy and Law 2, no. 3 (2007): 241-247.
] With no institutional mechanism in place to address private grievances, increasing unrest over issues of medical impoverishment represent a threat to the CPP’s authority. Though China’s health care system has come a long way, there remain many challenges to overcome in order for China to compete with international standards and mitigate increasing discontent among Chinese citizens. Health insurance inequity, over-prescription of drugs, as well as environmental and food safety problems pose potential threats to China’s health care system and government stability. How the CCP resolves the issue of affordable health care and medical impoverishment could very well decide the fate of the CCP in China. Continue reading “One Billion Lives and Counting: The Future of China’s Health Care Policy”