Explaining the U.S. Healthcare Debate in China

The farther away one stands from the Obamacare cases, the more curious they look against the portrait we usually imagine of ourselves. By now, America’s declining place in rankings of global health is so well known at home that it has lost its rhetorical punch, but it can be striking to notice how much other countries have done in the years that we have debated. Seven years ago, China’s beleaguered health-care system was the Wild West; half the country told pollsters that they couldn’t afford to see a doctor if they fell ill. Today? The problems remain immense—rural conditions are grim, there is one general practitioner for every twenty-two thousand people, and people still go to hospitals with envelopes of cash to “tip” the doctors—but on the basic economic and philosophical questions, such as whether the country is stronger if everyone is insured, the debate ended years ago.

Health, Politics