China’s 2011 Healthcare Reform Priorities

China continues to distribute the $125 billion of government funds that have been allocated for China healthcare reform. The priorities for this year will be improving public hospitals and providing better preparation to general practitioners, and healthcare improvements in the countryside.

Public hospitals have been a focus of the reforms since the beginning, but Vice Premier Li Keqiang emphasized that this year will be particularly focused on county-level hospitals. Since county-level hospitals cater to more than 900 million individuals, developing these hospitals will lead to a recognizable difference in the nation’s health. China also envisions significant growth in these county hospitals because they often provide health services at lower costs compared to large city hospitals.

China also intends to provide additional training to the general practitioners healthcare institutions below the Tier 3, 2 and 1 hospitals. This is the only component China healthcare reform that centers on developing technical skills rather than making structural changes such as building new hospitals. These “grass-roots” facilities serve a large number of rural citizens. The added training will lead to considerable increases in the nation’s well-being.

With the increased focus on suburban and rural health, China’s healthcare market is expected to grow substantially as more people obtain access to medical devices and drugs. In ten years, China’s healthcare market is expected to triple from the current estimate of over $200 billion to over $600 billion by 2020.