Op-Ed Contributors

What can we learn from Obama's plan?

By Yin Jiwu (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-05-10 07:53
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US President Barack Obama has fulfilled one key promise of his election campaign - affordable healthcare for the uninsured.

Healthcare issues have long troubled the superpower - even today 46 million of its citizens, or more than one eighth of its population, are out of its health insurance ambit.

China too is beset by some of the problems faced by the US healthcare system, such as high costs, low efficiency, and lack of justice in implementation.

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China too is carrying out a healthcare reform plan. I think we should learn from Obama's reforms to improve on our own.

The first and most essential principle governing healthcare reform is how to better promote justice in the current market economy.

Since it is a kind of social security, healthcare insurance should not be solely market-oriented. If market players dominate, their pursuit of profits would inevitably undermine the foundations of justice.

In the past few years, the US healthcare reform plan was opposed by such interest groups as insurance corporations and the wealthy.

Healthcare reform in China should stick to the principle of justice so that ordinary citizens, not only large corporations, can benefit from the reform.

The Chinese society has, in fact, shown us the way to do this - by avoiding such deficiencies as the "tyranny of the majority" our administrations tend to be more firm and efficient in protecting the rights of disadvantaged groups and promoting social justice.

Another important aspect is the role played by the government in the process.

By propelling the healthcare reform, the Obama administration evidently hurt the interests of several groups - commercial insurance companies, some senior citizens, and the wealthy, who all felt their interests were being violated.

All these various groups united politically to roundly oppose the plan.

According to the US healthcare act, the government will intervene in commercial insurance plans with measures including maximum limit to the cost of the insured so that the patients would no longer have to worry about falling into bankruptcy. Besides, in order to stimulate competition and lower insurance costs, public health insurance branches are also to be established.

Since it is free from such opposing interest groups, the government in China is expected to be more active in taking measures that benefit the common people.

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