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Medical Costs Soar in Asia, Regulation Needed - Experts
Source: worldbank.org
Source Date: Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Focus: Citizen Engagement
Created: Apr 06, 2010

"Health experts warned on Tuesday of soaring medical costs in Asia, especially with more people relying on insurance, and called for regulation to limit abuse by doctors and other healthcare providers. With populations ageing in Asia and demands for healthcare rising, more governments in the region are encouraging citizens to take up medical insurance, but these can be open to abuse. …

While growing economic might in Asia has enriched many, 900 million people in the region still subsist on less than $2 a day, according to the World Health Organisation. Without any financial risk protection, many families incur huge debts and are quickly driven to bankruptcy once any member develops a long-term chronic disease. …” [Reuters/Factiva]

AFP adds that “Asia's healthcare systems are straining under the weight of lifestyle ailments linked to rising affluence while confronting new and old infectious diseases like bird flu and tuberculosis. A rapidly ageing population, expensive medical technologies and more demanding patients are adding to the burden, said experts attending a regional healthcare conference this week in Singapore.

Budgetary constraints are hobbling government spending, but allowing the private sector to lead could take medical care further beyond the poor's reach, the experts said. …Healthcare spending as a percentage of gross domestic product in the 11 Asian economies ranged between 3.3 and 6.3 percent for 2010, compared with 16 percent in the United States and 10.3 percent in Western Europe, the Economist Intelligence Unit [in a study circulated at the conference] said. …” [Agence France Presse/Factiva]

The Saigon Times Daily writes that “Chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer and depression affect Asians as much as those in Western countries and governments must draft plans to cope with long-term costs, health experts said….

‘While Asians are still suffering the maternal, child health, infectious disease-type problems they are also living longer as they get enough food to eat and are suffering similar illnesses to those in the West, such as cardiovascular diseases and depression. Some Asian families can lose their entire savings to years of treatment after a stroke, heart attack or a botched vaccination. …” [The Saigon Times Daily/Factiva]
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