Farmers are not gaining much benefit from the rural cooperative
medical system, says a signed article in China Youth
Daily. An excerpt follows:
Beijing News had a special report last Thursday about a
couple in their thirties who committed suicide because of poverty
and disease. This couple left behind a 78-year-old mother and
12-year-old son, who, like his parents, has hepatitis B.
This tragedy reveals the current situation of the rural
cooperative medical system, which offers much for thought.
According to the report, the cooperative medical system exists in
the hometown of the deceased couple but farmers do not participate
in it because it doesn't save them money. For example, it costs 10
yuan more for a common injection for a cold in the designated
hospital than in a private clinic.
The price of a drug in the clinic is about half of that for the
same drug in the designated hospital. The Beijing News
report pointed out that the sad story has raised serious doubts
about the rural cooperative medical system.
There are many similar examples. The institutional design of the
cooperative medical system seems attractive since anyone can join
the system for 10 yuan a year. If they do not apply for
reimbursement during the year, eight yuan will automatically go
toward the next year's fee. The rate of reimbursement is high, too.
But in fact, the designated town hospitals are the biggest
A hernia operation at the designated hospital costs nearly 3,000
yuan (US$370) and the patient has to pay half the cost. The same
operation is priced at 600 yuan at the village private clinic.
The designated town hospitals tend to give unnecessary medical
checkups and treatments to profit from the cooperative system.
(China Daily April 9, 2007)