The focus of this case study is utilizing research to influence policy in a large developing country. Our experiences involve the lack of health insurance for China's rural populations and how our research helped shape China's recent policy attention and efforts on this issue. More than 80 percent of China's 700 million rural residents have no health insurance. This has been the case for the past thirty years, since the collapse of the once-successful Rural Cooperative Medical System after the economic reforms of the early 1980s. In 2002, the Chinese government announced a new rural health financing policy to provide health insurance for its rural populations, financed by a matching fund with contributions from central and local governments, as well as from individual households. This article documents the authors' experiences in addressing several critical questions for converting research results into policy actions, including the following: How are researchers to address policy relevant questions? How are they to acquire the attention of top policy makers to a specific problem? When is the issue at hand serious but not yet critical? And lastly, how are researchers to develop policy recommendations that stand a good chance of being accepted and enacted? Major lessons learned include the need to better understand the mandates and institutional constraints of the policy makers, the appropriateness of timing of both research result and policy efforts, how to use a country's cultural context to garner support of the government, how to enhance the policy's impact by combining formal and informal channels of communication for research dissemination, and the importance of following the policy process through the implementation phase to ensure the original objectives are achieved.
Research Article|February 01 2006
Providing Health Insurance in Rural China: From Research to Policy
J Health Polit Policy Law (2006) 31 (1): 71-92.