Tracking the effectiveness of health care reform in China: A case study of community health centers in a district of Beijing

Xuanchuan Zhang, Li Wu Chen, Keith Mueller, Qiao Yu, Jiapeng Liu, Ge Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Objectives: To track and evaluate the effectiveness since 2007 of urban health reform policies in Beijing that provided universal health insurance and strengthened local government-owned community health centers (CHCs). Methods: Pre- and post-reform data on outpatient visits, staff, and financial statements among all CHCs in a district in Beijing were analyzed by the nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis method. Field surveys were also conducted to supplement the statistical analysis. Results: The post-reform data showed a substantial increase in outpatient visits at the district level, but the number of outpatient visits was flat at the CHC level. In addition, short-term CHC responses to reform policies, such as employment growth, and operating expense-to-revenue ratio, have not been cost effective. Conclusion: The overall increase in outpatient visits at the district level, including at large hospitals, conceals the fact that CHCs within the district were unable to attract a greater number of patients. The lack of operational efficiency in the process of establishing and transforming CHCs may put the primary care system at financial risk in the long run. Well-synchronized policy measures should be considered in future reforms, especially in shaping the behaviors of patients, CHCs, and physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2011



  • China
  • Community health centers
  • Financial performance
  • Health care reform
  • Policy effectiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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