In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 2/3

October 29, 2012

To compare universal health care in China to private sector health care, I’m going to use Wal-Mart as an example to explain why we cannot rely on the private sector when it comes to the importance of health care and the quality of life.

In the private sector in the US, Wal-Mart did not achieve success because a sorcerer waved a magic wand and “POOF” suddenly Wal-Mart is everywhere as if a light switch were turned on.  The first Wal-Mart store opened in July 1962. By 1967, there were 24 stores. Today, forty-five years later, Wal-Mart has 2.2 million employees/associates worldwide and serves 200 million customers each week at more than 10,000 stores in 27 countries.

But China’s challenge is to serve 1.3 billion Chinese compared to Wal-Mart providing health care for 2.2 million of its workers. There is a HUGE difference in the numbers and China  hasn’t had forty-five years to build the infrastructure of this new universal health care plan.

Of course, a China critic may point out Wal-Mart’s success because it was a private sector business but that same critic, out of ignorance or by design, will not mention what Christian Science Monitor.com says about Wal-Mart’s health care for its employees:

“In addition to stopping the retaliations and respecting workers’ right to free speech and assembly, OUR Wal-Mart members would like to see the retailer offer more dependable work schedules, affordable healthcare for full-time workers, and a living wage ($13 per hour minimum).

“Wal-Mart has been advertising that they are a family-oriented company. And if this is how family is treated, then I would rather not have a family at all,” says Ms. Cruz.”

In the private sector, the way corporations/businesses treat employees varies from company to company. There is no universal standard of treatment, and there never will be unless the private sector eventually is owned by one global corporation.

Business Insider.com shows how Wal-Mart treats its employees: “Wal-Mart Guts Its Employee Health Care Plan and Raises Premiums—Rates are expected to climb by more than 40 percent for some employees. Combined with high deductibles, employees are complaining that their health care will now eat up to 20 percent of their annual pay.”

Continued on October 30, 2012, In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 1/3

October 28, 2012

Following the same logic as the title of this post, we should also ask, “Does a country exits without its people—not just the wealthy one percent but everyone?”

Studies show that the Mayan civilization (2000 BC – 900 AD) all but vanished overnight because the people walked away into the rainforest and stopped cooperating with the system of government and business that existed.

For this reason alone, every government owes its citizens a form of universal health care to help improve the quality of life, because a government cannot exist with public support.

In fact, every government has a responsibility to its citizens and that goes beyond just maintaining laws, an education system, police, fire-fighting services and a military to defend the country.

The least we should expect from our government is a basic universal health care system that rewards contributing citizens that live healthy lifestyles with more coverage at a lower cost.

On the other hand, citizens that live unhealthy lifestyles should pay more for anything beyond basic health care. When I say basic health care, I mean an annual checkup and treatment for health challenges that are not related to poor lifestyle choices. I do not think that working taxpayers should pay for the health care of a person that made poor lifestyle choices.

However, most universal health care plans do just that–take care of all citizens regardless of individual lifestyle choices.

At the end of 2008, China’s government published its reform plan clarifying government’s responsibility by saying that it would play a dominant role in providing public health and basic medical service. It declared “Both central and local governments should increase health funding. The percentage of government’s input in total health expenditure should be increased gradually so that the financial burden of individuals can be reduced,” The plan listed public health, rural areas, city community health services and basic medical insurance as four key areas for government investment. It also promised to tighten government control over medical fees in public hospitals and to set up a “basic medicine system” to quell public complaints of rising drug costs.

The plan was passed by the Chinese Cabinet in January 2009. The long-awaited medical reform plan promised to spend 850 billion Yuan by 2011 to provide universal medical service and that measures would be taken to provide basic medical security to all Chinese

For China, I found this from CNN, “Where in the world can you get universal health care?” dated June 29, 2012:

China announced an overhaul of its health system in 2009 to bring safe, affordable basic health services to all residents — a tall order for a country containing 1.3 billion people.

The government committed about $126 billion to reform the quality and efficiency of its health care, and ensure affordable and quality medication.

But the issue of equity in health care persists. “There are still significant disparities in health status between regions, urban and rural areas, and among population groups,” according to the WHO.

China has seen increased life expectancy and reductions in infant deaths, but health observers stated in the WHO report the need to improve delivery of care. Source: cnn.com

CNN.com says that Obamacare in the US is NOT universal health care coverage and that nearly 50 countries out of almost 200 have attainted universal or near-universal health coverage by 2008.  China was on the list of eight countries mentioned as examples. They were: Brazil, where free health care coverage is recognized as a citizen’s right; Rwanda; Thailand; South Korea; Moldova; Kuwait; Chile, and China.

As far as I know, none of these countries have ever gone bankrupt or have come close to bankruptcy due to this socialist policy. However, they also do not have a history of fighting wars with other nations.

This report from PBS News Hour in April 2011 explains why and how China is dealing with universal health care system for 1.3 billion people. It talks about the pros and cons of establishing reforms in health care in China.

I wonder how long it will take for China to build the infrastructure and adjust for problems in this new system before it is more competent to handle the demand.

For PBS to report on this topic, they had to have approval from the CCP in Beijing. I’m sure that China’s critics will only focus on the problems without considering or mentioning that instant gratification is unrealistic and it takes time to build the infrastructure for a new system of any kind.

Continued on October 29, 2012, In healthcare, what comes first: the chicken or the egg? – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Health Care during the Mao era

August 14, 2012

After the Chinese Communists (CCP) won the Civil war in 1949, health care improved in China. Prior to that, life expectancy for the average Chinese was thirty-five years. By Mao’s death in 1976, average life expectancy had increased by twenty years so the program worked.

In fact, the CCP was the first government in China’s history to set goals and plans to help its people living in poverty improve the quality of their lifestyles.  For example, soon after Mao Zedong’s healthcare speech in 1965, the concept of the barefoot doctor (with basic paramedical training) was developed. By 1968, the barefoot doctors program was a national policy.

The barefoot doctor program came to an end in 1981 with the end of the commune system of agricultural cooperatives. However, two-thirds of rural village doctors currently practicing in China were first trained as barefoot doctors

Under the barefot doctor program, there were three basic areas of medical care. Free substandard medical care was provided to the proletarian working class, meaning workers and peasants.

This program was the backbone of rural-health care in China, and anyone could become a barefoot doctor.

Mao told the people that if you wanted to be a doctor, you didn’t need to go to medical school. All you had to do was have the motivation to provide medical care to needy people and the government would support you and provide limited training.

The second class of medical care went to people like teachers, clerks and secretaries, ‘friends’ of the working class, the proletariat. The only difference was that the ‘friends’ had to pay to get medical treatment. It was possible to face financial ruin from one hospital stay.

The third class were considered enemies of the proletariat like former shop-owners, landlords and denounced intellectuals like liberal arts professors. These people were denied health care treatment altogether.

Then, between 1981 and 2003, the health care system in China was privatized, which meant people had to pay before treatment or no treatment. This changed in 2003, when the CCP launched a new cooperative medical system operated and funded by the government with copay of 10 Renminbi per year for each person covered by the program.

Discover China’s Urban Rural Divide

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This revised and edited post first appeared February 27, 2010

 


The Challenge of Rural Health Care in America and China

July 7, 2010

This morning, I read in the AARP Bulletin about small town medicine in the US aptly titled Lonesome Doc.  I learned that 77 million Americans (more than 25% of the population) living in rural areas have 10% of the doctors and that a 2008 study found life expectancies are declining in rural America.  Many doctors will not work in rural America where primary care doctors make about $20,000 a year less than their big-city counterparts.

China has similar challenges with rural health care. In 2009, The Journal of International Relations reported that in China “low-end institutions, particularly the rural township hospitals and community hospitals in the cities are gradually shrinking. More than 87% of rural population was without any health insurance.…When rural low income people need to go to the hospital, 70 to 90% choose self care.”

Then near the end of 2009, China’s central government announced a new five-year plan to improve the quality of life for rural citizens. The New Health Care Bill Facts reported “The (Chinese) government decision to improve healthcare infrastructure in rural areas will result in increasing demand of medical devices and equipment.”

China also recently sent a team to Sweden to learn how chronic diseases are managed there since China, with its ageing population, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of chronic disease cases.”

I wondered what the US was doing to improve rural-health care.  I did read that primary-care doctors coming out of college would have student loans forgiven if they work in rural America. After all, this is America where we trust in the private sector to solve everything as long as the money is there.

See China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The Changing Landscape

March 25, 2010

Regardless of what Political Correctness requires most Americans to say in public about other cultures and ethnic groups, America’s national interests (meaning Americans making money and spending more) have dominated the globe for decades clearly showing a lack of respect for other cultures.

Today, the world is on the verge of a major shift away from America’s national interests as China rewrites the rules on trade, technology, currency, climate change, etc.

中国
China/Middle Kingdom

The March 22, 2010, issue of Newsweek, “It’s China’s World—We’re Just living In It“, talks about those changes. Where the American dollar once ruled supreme, the Chinese yuan is appearing around the Asia-Pacific as an alternative currency.

As I pointed out about the Chinese space race, China is now the only country making major investments in space exploration and their reasons are not to earn bragging rights by putting footsteps in moon dust but to discover fresh sources of rare minerals that are quickly being depleted on the earth.

Looking for opportunities, China has become the leader in green technology.

Meanwhile, America is missing the boat as political/religious agendas rule the behavior of the ruling class who squabble over global warming, school prayer, abortion, health care, stem cell research, evolution versus creationism, etc.


Health Care, Urban Real Estate and Renewable Energy Update

March 9, 2010

Rural citizens of China have been protesting the lack of quality health care outside the cities where eight hundred million Chinese live. This topic was also a subject for debate in China’s legislature, known as the National People’s Congress. (see Basic Health Care in China (http://wp.me/pN4pY-bO)

Another complaint China’s government wants to deal with is the shocking price increases to buy a home in one of China’s cities. Housing costs in seventy Chinese cities jumped 9.5% from a year earlier. The government wants to bring those prices down to make housing more affordable.

During the Copenhagen Climate Summit, China was criticized for not signing a pledge to reduce carbon emissions. China recently announced that it is planning to reduce its carbon footprint by 40-45% (from 2005 levels) and generate 15% of its electricity from renewable technologies by 2020. Over the next ten years, we should see these changes taking place. Since most of China’s leaders are engineers, they often set long-term goals.

Chinese Wind Farms

By comparison, President Obama said at Copenhagen that the United States intended to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “in the range of” 17% by 2020.  Since the Chinese government doesn’t have to deal with American conservatives, who do not believe carbon emissions are causing global warming and block legislation and spew confusion at every chance, I’d place my bet on China achieving their goals first.


China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time

February 27, 2010

After the Communists won China in 1949, health care improved. Prior to that, life expectancy for the Chinese people was thirty-five years. By Mao’s death in 1976, average life expectancy had increased by twenty years.

There were three basic areas of medical care. Free substandard medical care was provided to the proletarian working class, meaning workers and peasants.

Mao started a program called ‘bare-foot doctors’. This program was the backbone of rural health care in China. This meant anyone could become a doctor.

  • Video: Documentary of Bare-Foot Doctors in China

Mao told the people that if you wanted to be a doctor, you didn’t need to go to medical school. All you had to do was have the motivation to provide medical care to needy people and the government would support you and provide limited training.

The second class of medical care went to people like teachers, clerks and secretaries, ‘friends’ of the working class, the proletariat. The only difference was that these ‘friends’ had to pay to get medical treatment. It was possible to face financial ruin from one hospital stay.

The third class were termed enemies of the proletariat like former shop-owners, landlords and denounced intellectuals like liberal arts professors. These people were denied treatment altogether.

Learn about China’s Urban Rural Divide

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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