Comparing the services and quality of private and public clinics in rural China
AbstractAfter 15 years eradication of the private health sector in Socialist China, private practice was restored in 1980 along with the market oriented economic reform. In recent years, however, debates on its pros and cons are increasing. Arguments against private practice have led to a ban on private practice in some rural counties. The arguments against private practice state that the service quality of private clinics tends to be lower than that of public ones; private clinics are less likely to provide preventive care; and private clinics are more likely to provide over-treatment. This paper presents the major findings from a study conducted in China, aiming at comparing private and public village health clinics in terms of quality of services, willingness to provide preventive care and over-prescription of drugs. While it was found that the quality of services was poor and a large proportion of patient expenditure was due to over-treatment for all village clinics, there was no difference between public and private clinics. Both private and public clinics were willing to provide preventive services if they were subsidized for the provision. This study finds no evidence that care provided by private clinics is inferior to that of public clinics.