Urban economic reform and access to health care coverage in the People's Republic of China

C M Grogan
Social Science & Medicine 1995, 41 (8): 1073-84
While the economic reforms since 1978 have brought about substantial changes in the rural health care system, there have been many and far-reaching implications for the urban health insurance system as well. This paper describes the evolving urban economy and examines the implications of these changes for access to health care coverage. Provided first is a brief description of the Chinese urban health care system. Three major areas of urban economic reform since 1984 are outlined and the possible effects of these reforms on health care coverage are discussed. The analysis reveals, first, the emergence of insurance coverage inequities under employment-based health insurance as China moves toward a open market economy. Second, the process of focusing on health services in rural and urban areas as separate systems is unnecessary and even counter-productive in light of the emerging integration of China's urban and rural-economies. Finally, some reasons for why China continues to search for employment-based health financing approaches are offered.

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