China may be on the forefront of economic development, but it has a long way to go in providing health care for its hundreds of millions of workers, according to Hocking Cheng, managing director for health management solutions in China for Aetna. Such health care woes may haunt U.S. multinationals that have to contend with employee wellness issues at home and abroad.

While GDP in China has grown at 10% over past 30 years, health care expenditures have grown at 18% in past 20 years. Spending in rural and urban areas varies greatly, and most care is provided through public hospitals, which, Cheng told attendees at the Institute for Health and Productivity Management annual conference, are funded by prescription drug sales and over utilization of technology. Although the Chinese government covers 95% of its people, it contributes just 10% of operating expenses in health care.

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