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Non-evidence-based policy: How effective is China's new cooperative medical scheme in reducing medical impoverishment?

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  • Yip, Winnie
  • Hsiao, William C.

Abstract

In recent years, many lower to middle income countries have looked to insurance as a means to protect their populations from medical impoverishment. In 2003, the Chinese government initiated the New Cooperative Medical System (NCMS), a government-run voluntary insurance program for its rural population. The prevailing model of NCMS combines medical savings accounts with high-deductible catastrophic hospital insurance (MSA/Catastrophic). To assess the effectiveness of this approach in reducing medical impoverishment, we used household survey data from 2006 linked to claims records of health expenditures to simulate the effect of MSA/Catastrophic on reducing the share of individuals falling below the poverty line (headcount), and the amount by which household resources fall short of the poverty line (poverty gap) due to medical expenses. We compared the effects of MSA/Catastrophic to Rural Mutual Health Care (RMHC), an experimental model that provides first dollar coverage for primary care, hospital services and drugs with a similar premium but a lower ceiling. Our results show that RMHC is more effective at reducing medical impoverishment than NCMS. Under the internationally accepted poverty line of US$1.08 per person per day, the MSA/Catastrophic models would reduce the poverty headcount by 3.5-3.9% and the average poverty gap by 11.8-16.4%, compared with reductions of 6.1-6.8% and 15-18.5% under the RMHC model. The primary reason for this is that NCMS does not address a major cause of medical impoverishment: expensive outpatient services for chronic conditions. As such, health policymakers need first to examine the disease profile and health expenditure pattern of a population before they can direct resources to where they will be most effective. As chronic diseases impose a growing share of the burden on the population in developing countries, it is not necessarily true that insurance coverage focusing on expensive hospital care alone is the most effective at providing financial risk protection.

Suggested Citation

  • Yip, Winnie & Hsiao, William C., 2009. "Non-evidence-based policy: How effective is China's new cooperative medical scheme in reducing medical impoverishment?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 201-209, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:68:y:2009:i:2:p:201-209
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Faden, Laura & Vialle-Valentin, Catherine & Ross-Degnan, Dennis & Wagner, Anita, 2011. "Active pharmaceutical management strategies of health insurance systems to improve cost-effective use of medicines in low- and middle-income countries: A systematic review of current evidence," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 134-143.
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    4. Wagner, Anita K. & Graves, Amy Johnson & Reiss, Sheila K. & LeCates, Robert & Zhang, Fang & Ross-Degnan, Dennis, 2011. "Access to care and medicines, burden of health care expenditures, and risk protection: Results from the World Health Survey," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 151-158.
    5. Zhou, Xu Dong & Li, Lu & Hesketh, Therese, 2014. "Health system reform in rural China: Voices of healthworkers and service-users," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 134-141.
    6. Ramesh, M. & Wu, Xun, 2009. "Health policy reform in China: Lessons from Asia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 2256-2262, June.
    7. Wouters, Olivier J. & Cylus, Jonathan & Yang, Wei & Thomson, Sarah & McKee, Martin, 2016. "Medical savings accounts: assessing their impact on efficiency, equity, and financial protection in health care," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 65448, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Jianmei Zhao & Hai Zhong, 2015. "Medical expenditure in urban China: a quantile regression analysis," International Journal of Health Economics and Management, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 387-406, December.
    9. Adam Wagstaff & Winnie Yip & Magnus Lindelow & William C. Hsiao, 2009. "China's health system and its reform: a review of recent studies," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(S2), pages 7-23, July.
    10. Woldemichael, Andinet & Gurara, Daniel Zerfu & Shimeles, Abebe, 2016. "Community-Based Health Insurance and Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Spending in Africa: Evidence from Rwanda," IZA Discussion Papers 9922, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    14. World Bank, 2015. "Bulgaria Health Financing," World Bank Other Operational Studies 22964, The World Bank.
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    17. Azam, Mehtabul, 2018. "Does Social Health Insurance Reduce Financial Burden? Panel Data Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 1-17.
    18. Li, Cheng & Yu, Xuan & Butler, James R.G. & Yiengprugsawan, Vasoontara & Yu, Min, 2011. "Moving towards universal health insurance in China: Performance, issues and lessons from Thailand," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 359-366, August.
    19. Zhou, Zhongliang & Su, Yanfang & Gao, Jianmin & Xu, Ling & Zhang, Yaoguang, 2011. "New estimates of elasticity of demand for healthcare in rural China," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 103(2), pages 255-265.
    20. Liu, Kai & Wu, Qiaobing & Liu, Junqiang, 2014. "Examining the association between social health insurance participation and patients' out-of-pocket payments in China: The role of institutional arrangement," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 95-103.

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