CHINA SEEKS WESTERN-STYLE CARE AMID EXPLOSION OF ELDERLY
Bloomberg, August 28, 2013
The Chinese increasingly eat, shop and play in ways their Western counterparts would instantly recognize. They’re aging like them too, living longer lives that are often limited by debilitating illnesses.
As the almost 200 million population of over-60s more than doubles in the next 40 years, China faces a deluge of infirm elderly who can’t live alone. Nor can they rely on Confucian tradition of children caring for their parents: the country’s one-child policy has left fewer offspring to share the load, while more Chinese are moving away from home to study or work.
While China spent 1.1 trillion yuan ($179.7 billion) over the past four years to cut the cost of drugs and provide basic medical coverage for more than 90 percent of its 1.3 billion people, services for the elderly have fallen behind. To plug the gap, Premier Li Keqiang said Aug. 16 the government will cut red tape and costs to spur foreign investment into the type of privately funded care that is common in the West.
“They’re going to be struggling with an enormous burden in terms of caring for their elderly,” said Benjamin Shobert, managing director of Rubicon Strategy Group in Seattle, which advises companies on how to enter Asian health-care markets. “They don’t really have two bites of the apple. Purely from a time-frame point of view, the next 10 years are critical.”
(...) [article here]