COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — China and India are the world’s most populous countries, respectively. Thirty-five percent of the world’s population lives within the two countries, and as such, healthcare is essential in protecting the interests of their citizens.
Healthcare in China and India could not be more taxing. Since 2009, China has spent over $371 billion in healthcare reform with $100 billion going toward healthcare insurance, hospital reform and public health.
Increased spending helped healthcare insurance coverage shift from 30 percent in 2003 to 95 percent in 2011. In 2013, China spent 5.4 percent of its GDP on health expenditures, the sum of public and private healthcare expenditures, while India spent just 4 percent of its GDP on health expenditures, according to World Bank figures.
Both countries are increasing total government spending on healthcare to help offset out-of-pocket payments for the average citizen, but access to affordable and quality healthcare is still hard to come by in both countries.
In India, 70 percent of healthcare spending is out-of-pocket for patients, signaling a substantial lack of insurance coverage in the country. Similarly, while most Chinese citizens have health insurance, 50 percent of the population pays out of pocket for hospital bills due to poor government investment management.
A survey conducted by the Horizon Research Consultancy Group in October 2013 found that 95 percent of Chinese respondents deemed healthcare to be expensive, and 81 percent noted that seeing a doctor was exceedingly difficult.
In India, individuals experience similar difficulties. Treatment is often far too costly, in part because of unavailable private or public insurance policies. Inefficiency, corruption and ill-equipped hospitals mean that even the wealthy are encountering adversity in finding quality treatment options.
Both countries have made significant progress in advancing their healthcare industries, but more policy decisions need to be made to ensure that healthcare is affordable, accessible and effective. Increasing the technical capabilities of healthcare providers, expanding hospital infrastructure and services to rural and urban citizens and subsidizing the cost of healthcare should be priorities of Indian and Chinese policymakers.
– Joseph McAdams