Healthcare reform in mainland China: The relationship of healthcare reform and economic development in Chinese rural and urban areas

Lee, Yen-Han
Major Professor
Mack Shelley
Committee Member
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Political Science
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Political Science

A healthcare system is a major part of any social system that plays a vital role in both developed and developing countries. It is the system that supports our health, environment, life expectancy, and hygiene. A successful healthcare system can bring positive impact to society. For the last few decades, most developed countries have had an organized healthcare system to provide sufficient medical resources to patients. This helps to increase life expectancy and improve hygiene. On the other hand, a better healthcare system also brings negative consequences for the society because an aging population becomes a topic of controversy around the world. Mainland China, the most populous country in the world, has gradually become a superpower in Asia. The Chinese government invests a large amount of its financial resources for economic development, often neglecting the healthcare system. This makes healthcare a controversial topic in Asia. The Chinese healthcare system received criticisms for failing to improve the quality of healthcare services and professionalism in the field during the healthcare reform of the 1990s. The early healthcare reforms and local healthcare insurance schemes in the 1990s supported patients and workers from several provinces, but the gap between urban and rural areas was widened after the 1990s. The outbreak of SARS in 2003 tested the effectiveness of the Chinese healthcare system at the start of millennium. The system was unable to maintain equal access among those in the upper, middle, and working classes in the social structure. The results of healthcare reform in the 1990s and early 2000s demonstrated that the system is unable to support its citizens. Thus, it is important to re-evaluate the healthcare system and public policy in mainland China.