China’s State Council announced Wednesday that it will spend US$124 billion on medical reforms over the next three years, AP reported. Goals include increasing participation in the basic medical insurance system up to 90% for both urban and rural populations as well as reforming public hospitals which are frequently criticized for high fees, poor access, and inadequate services. Health Minister Chen Zhu said earlier this month that the government plans to reduce public hospitals’ reliance on profits from drug sales and medical service fees to cover expenses, though no details were provided as to how this would be achieved. At present, China’s medical system requires payment before treatment and only 17% of medical costs are covered by government insurance, which encourages a high savings rate. The plan could both improve basic health services and stimulate domestic consumption, according to the report.
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