Even with the Bribes Chinese Health Care is Better since Privatization

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 12th, 2014

Week in Review

China has recently privatized their health care system.  Sort of.  They have private health care providers and a state health insurance that helps pay for it with a small patient ‘co-pay’.  Quality of care did increase.  But health care providers don’t get paid a lot in China.  And turn to other means of compensation that is not without its problems (see ‘Guardian angels’ to protect Chinese doctors from patients by Malcolm Moore posted 4/9/2014 on The Telegraph).

Hospitals in Beijing will recruit 1,500 “guardian angels” to protect their doctors from violent attacks by patients.

In recent years, angry patients have killed a number of Chinese doctors, often citing frustration at how they have been handled by the healthcare system…

Doctors and nurses in hospitals are violently attacked every two weeks on average, the state media said, by patients angry at long waiting times, high medical bills and haughty or uncaring doctors…

The government has promised to root out corruption in the healthcare system, and the Health Ministry said in February it would target patients who bribe doctors for better treatment.

Yes, bribes.  Or hongbao, as it’s called in China.  If you want some decent care in a Chinese hospital you have to slide an envelope with money in it to your health care provider.  Otherwise you’ll only get what the state health insurance will buy you.  Long waiting times, high medical bills (for what the state insurance doesn’t cover—a high deductible, if you will) and haughty or uncaring doctors.  Which tells you how bad the health care system must have been before they privatized it.  For it’s a lot better now than it used to be.

So China made their health care better by privatizing it (although it is still so bad that angry patients who paid good bribes for their loved one’s care are assaulting their doctors and nurses every two weeks on average).  While the United States is going the other way.  Towards more state control.  Pity the Obama administration can’t be more like China when it comes to health care.  And try to improve the quality of health care instead of making it worse.  Which they will likely do as their cost saving measure is simply to pay health care providers less.  Which will likely discourage doctors from entering the system.  Or remaining in the system.  Leading to longer waiting times.  And, perhaps, bribes.  At least from those who want good care for their loved ones.

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