In the United States, there are 300 million people. In China, there are 1.3 billion. Life expectancy in the US is 77.7 years, and in China it is 73 years. So we do live a little longer than our Chinese counterparts, but the difference is not that great, and China’s life expectancy has been rising lately.
The Chinese government has vowed to provide universal health insurance to all Chinese citizens by 2020. And they have more than four times as many people as we have in the United States. In the last four years, 730 million Chinese farmers have joined a rural health cooperative. Under the cooperative, the farmers pay 10 Yuan ($1.37) per year, and the government kicks in another 40 yuan per person. So they’re providing health care for less than $7/year per person. And their life expectancy is only a few years less than ours and rising.
If the Chinese government can undertake the monumental project of providing universal health care to a nation whose people account for a full 20% of the world’s population, it would seem that we could do the same here in the US. Yes, it would require a shift in how we look at health insurance and the health care system, but it’s only impossible if we give up before we start.
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