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Drug Discov Ther. 2018;12(1):1-6. doi: 10.5582/ddt.2017.01064.

China's achievements and challenges in improving health insurance coverage.

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Department of Pharmacy, Shandong Provincial Hospital affiliated to Shandong University.
Department of Rehabilitation medicine, Shandong Provincial Hospital affiliated to Shandong University.


China has undertaken waves of healthcare reforms to keep pace with its rapid economic growth. By 2011, universal health insurance coverage was successfully achieved through the creation of a basic social medical insurance system. Growing economic power, extensive government subsidies, and strategies for program implementation are critical to that achievement. However, the breadth and depth of coverage varies considerably across insurance schemes and localities. The disjointed insurance scheme led to inequality in coverage, accessibility, and affordability of medical services, lopsided allocation of health resources, and increasing medical expenditures, and these remain crucial challenges for healthcare insurance coverage. This paper describes societal conditions, polices, achievements and challenges in improving health insurance coverage in China. Thailand's experience in universal health insurance coverage and its implications for China's new medical reform are also discussed. Solutions including sustainable increases in government investment, transformation of payment methods, reinforcement of primary health care delivery and the referral system, and standardization of benefits packages are strongly recommended to address challenges in China's long-running medical reform.


China; Health insurance; healthcare reform; universal coverage

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