China's Health-Care Struggle

As American lawmakers look to shore up the United States' ailing health-care system, Chinese officials are dealing with an even more immediate health crisis. Over 300 million of China's 1.4 billion people lack any health insurance whatsoever, the legacy of market reforms in 1980 that set the stage for explosive growth but cut off millions from government health care. According to the Washington Post, while quality of care has improved rapidly in that period, there are huge gaps between rich and poor and out-of-pocket expenses for Chinese patients in 2005 were over 100 times what they were in 1980. Chinese authorities are divided on how to confront the problem: some have suggested encouraging more private spending from the wealthy to boost doctors' incomes and encourage more medical students. But others say such an approach would lead doctors to ignore poorer patients in favor of rich ones.