The Chinese reject the Obamacare Model, Prefer Private Health Care over State-Provided Health Care

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 14th, 2012

Week in Review

When Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations it set the Western World on the path to dominance.  It’s why the British and the Americans led the world into the Industrial Revolution.  It defeated the Axis Powers in World War II as no one could match America’s Arsenal of Democracy.  And it’s the weapon that Ronald Reagan used to win the Cold War.  For the Soviet Union could not even feed her own people without food aid from her arch nemesis.  The United States.  It’s no contest.  Capitalism wins.  And even while the Americans drift further away from it one of her communist nemesis embraces it more ever day.  China.  And of all places China is now embracing to fix their ailing national health care system (see The good midwife of Sichuan posted 4/7/2012 on The Economist).

The Angel hospital in Sichuan’s capital is part of a wave of privately owned hospitals, catering to patients fleeing crowded state clinics.

The patients here are well-off locals, paying from 20,000 yuan ($3,200) for a Caesarean delivery and the latest drugs…

The roots of private health care in Communist China go back to clinics that treated venereal disease. In other respects, the taint of private care has gone, and foreign investment is encouraged. Over 30 joint ventures have been approved; many more are in the pipeline. The country’s new five-year plan endorses private-sector investors as part of the solution to the country’s shortage of affordable health care. Health spending has soared in recent years and is set to top 700 billion yuan by 2015.

The authorities also think the private sector can serve as a model for public hospitals dogged by poor administration, demands for patients to pay cash up front, and bribes by pharmaceutical companies to prescribe their drugs. Liu Shuyan, the Angel’s chief doctor, talks of “patient pathways” and “mother-centred care”: the kind of jargon that accompanied the drive for health reform in Britain a decade ago…

The population over 65 will rise by 8m a year for the next five years, so nursing homes will become an increasingly tempting business. For all the constraints, China looks set for a larger dose of healthful capitalism.

Well, well, well, what’s all this, then?  For those on the American left China can do no wrong when it comes to state-capitalism.  With the emphasis on the ‘state’ and not the ‘capitalism’.  Their only beef is that they’ve veered too far from their communist past.  Back in the good old days when they put capitalism in its place.  Making it a crime against the state.  And, instead, having the state provide tender and compassionate care only a government can give.  And the occasional famine (thank you Chairman Mao).  But here they are, that communist bastion, embracing capitalism to fix what ails her.  Again.

So, state-provided health care has overcrowding, long waits and soaring costs.  Huh.  Who’d a guess?  Except, of course, every critic of Obamacare.  And yet we’re heading down that path.  And, interestingly, the Chinese communists are passing us by going the other way.  You know if the Chinese communist embrace private health care that something has to be wrong with the state-provided variety.  In fact, they’re trying to reform their health care system.  As are the British.  The Canadians, too.  I think there’s a message here.  And if I were to hazard a guess of what that message is from our state-provided health care friends I think it would go something like this.  “Don’t do it.”  And, “Obamacare is a mistake.”

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