Russians come to Alaska to learn about free-market health care

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2002

ANCHORAGE - Ten health care professionals from the Russian Far East are coming to Anchorage next month to learn more about how to provide health care in a market economy.

The nonprofit American Russian Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus is hosting visitors from the cities of Yakutsk, Khabarovsk and Birobidjan. The center functions essentially as a capitalism college for visiting Russians.

The health care system in Russia is still struggling to cope with the country's transition to a market economy and good medical care is hard to find in the sparsely populated Far East, said Irina Dubinina, project manager at the center. The former Soviet government used to subsidize health care. While the services weren't as good as in some Western countries, medical care was free and accessible to everybody, particularly mothers and children, Dubinina said.

Now many of those subsidies have dried up and Russian citizens can't afford many medical techniques, particularly if they need specialized services outside their home hospital districts, she said.

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