Education officials are urging foreign students in Shanghai to ensure they've got medical insurance.
The warning came after a Laotian student at Fudan University was diagnosed with leukemia. He faces a big medical bill for a bone marrow transplant. The city's existing university student insurance program doesn't cover foreigners.
Students at Fudan have raised nearly 50,000 yuan (US$6,250) for Bouphalyvanh Bounmy, a postgraduate in Fudan's law school, since he was diagnosed with the potentially fatal disease in August. But his final bill is expected to be at least 400,000 yuan.
So far Bounmy has paid all of his medical expenses with money borrowed from the university.
"Donations from individuals demonstrate their care and love but we should seek a more effective solution to the problem," said Wang Yuping, a teacher at Fudan's foreign student affairs office.
University students in China are entitled to government-funded medical insurance which exempts them from most inpatient and outpatient expenses.
For foreigners, however, only Chinese government scholarship winners and those funded by their own government are granted medical insurance with a claim limit of 400,000 yuan.
Fu Weizhong, vice director of the Shanghai Education Commission's foreign affairs division, said the city requires all foreign students to purchase insurance. But individual schools are responsible for ensuring students actually have the cover.
The Ministry of Education has teamed up with an insurance company to work out a special insurance scheme for foreign students which would cost 600 yuan a year and have a claim limit of 400,000 yuan.
Some domestic universities such as Zhejiang in Hangzhou compel foreign students to buy an insurance policy recommended by the Ministry of Education before registration.
The city has no such regulations so students are free to pick any insurance policy offered either in China or their own country, Wang said.
(Shanghai Daily November 24, 2006)