I spent rather more than I’d like of my Thursday night writing a piece I promised ABCNews for their week-long series on the health care system that starts Sunday. As I was finishing up I saw this. It’s not exactly what I was writing about, but it’s not far away—Medical costs push 78 million Asians into poverty
International health experts have estimated that 78 million more Asians than previously thought are living in poverty because of healthcare costs. Many people in Asian countries do not have health insurance and pay for doctor bills and medical treatments. But the out-of-pocket health expenses they incur are not included in conventional estimates of poverty.When researchers deducted the medical costs from total household resources in 11 Asian countries, millions more people fell below the internationally accepted poverty threshold of $1 per head per day. "If you allow for direct out-of-pocket healthcare payments, there are another 78 million counted as poor," said Dr Eddy van Doorslaer, a health economist at Erasmus University in the Netherlands who headed the research team."We calculated that an additional 2.7 percent of the population under study ended up with less than $1 a per day after they had paid for healthcare." The figures, which are reported in the Lancet medical journal on Friday, are based on information from national expenditure surveys of what people spend on medical care in the various countries. The researchers extrapolated the national, representative samples to cover the entire population. Overall the study showed the prevalence of poverty was 14 percent higher than other estimates that did not include out-of-pocket healthcare costs.