China's Health PlanChina has a population of nearly 1.4 billion people. About 5% of those people are living below the poverty line in China, with the majority unable to afford health care services.

Although China provides universal coverage for basic health insurance, out-of-pocket expenses could easily lead to bankruptcy for low-income individuals. However, China’s health plan aims to tackle this issue.

On June 21, 2016, 15 central government departments released a guideline stating that all people living below the poverty line in China will have access to basic medical care and other health services by 2020. The government will organize various resources and take more measures to support the development of health and medical services in poor areas.

Several ministries, including the National Health and Family Planning Commission and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, are working together to tackle health-related poverty.

They have organized a nationwide investigation into the major health conditions responsible for the poverty in rural China. The investigation will cover every household that fell into poverty from health expenses. A report of the investigation will be completed in July and help authorities provide assistance to different groups based on medical needs.

Hospitals, doctors and other medical resources are very scarce with a major gap between supply and demand. The government will increase insurance aid to help regions living in poverty gain access to more health resources. The government is also encouraging nongovernmental organizations and private sectors to invest in poor regions.

Additionally, the Chinese Red Cross Foundation is partnering with an IT company to launch an online crowd funding website, which will give poor patients direct access to donations for medical resources and healthcare.

The guideline for China’s health plan is part of a national strategy being put in place to guarantee that all people living below the poverty line in China are no longer impoverished by 2020 and have access to universal health and medical care.

Jackie Venuti

Photo: The Telegraph