Pharma’s Next-Billion Patients

The Impact of Health Care Reform in China, 2009–2011

The Chinese government has largely achieved the objective of its 2009–2011 program of health care reform: to provide its 1.3 billion people with access to basic health care. China invested $125 billion in this effort, with a special focus on the “next billion”—the 400 million urban unemployed and the more than 650 million inhabitants of rural areas. Today about 96 percent of China’s population has public health-care insurance, and per capita payouts by the country’s insurance fund have more than doubled in the past three years.

Not surprisingly given these developments, China’s market for pharmaceuticals is dynamic and likely to expand greatly in the coming years. To better understand the emerging characteristics of the country’s new health-care industry, as well as the size and potential growth of the pharmaceutical market, The Boston Consulting Group recently conducted an in-depth survey of hospital heads, physicians, and patients throughout the country. Over 60 in-person interviews and 900 detailed surveys provided extensive data and reflection points on the changing system. The insights we gathered and present in this report should provide robust input for pharma companies as they develop strategies for accessing and capitalizing on China’s growing health-care market.