In China, Pay Up or Die

On the plane to Belfast I was handed a Wall Street Journal and found this story about how the lack of health insurance in China causes deaths and heartache to millions.

China’s health system is strictly pay as you go. Cash upfront or you don’t get treated. Fewer than one third of China’s 1.3 billion people have health insurance, and more than half of all health spending it out of pocket. More than half of the total health spending is for prescription drugs…compared to just 15% for the US.

The story depicted a man from the country who had borrowed more than $18,000 from nearly every other resident of his village, and had made it through just two of the five required chemotherapy doses. The doctors chastised the father when his funds ran low, threatening to throw his son out if he didn’t pay up.