The Chinese health care system is simply terrible. So terrible that a woman was photographed on the streets of Fuzhou offering to sell her one-year-old daughter — to help her husband pay a doctor’s bill.
The woman’s name is Ni Qiong, and last Thursday her husband, a migrant construction worker named Zhou Xinggui, fell from a scaffolding three stories high, smashing bones throughout his body an puncturing his lungs.
But in China, medical treatment is expensive and difficult to come by. The government started a national health insurance program in 2009 and though it boasts that 95 percent of China’s more than 1.3 billion people are covered, the insurance plan doesn’t cover much and doesn’t pay nearly enough.
And employers can easily shirk their responsibilities, even when medical emergencies are their own fault.
In Zhou’s case, after his fall the boss at his construction site handed him a wad of cash totaling 7,000 Chinese Yuan, which is about $1,100. And then the boss simply vanished.
The problem is Zhou needs surgery costing much more than that, and doctors won’t perform the operations until he pays them money up front — 100,000 yuan, or more than $16,000.
That’s why his wife and mother to their three children took to the streets of the Fujian Provincial capital, a city with a population of more than 2 million, with a sign reading, “Boss fled after industrial accident and we don’t have the money for treatment; I’m willing to sell my child to save her father.”
She sat on the street for four hours Monday morning with no takers willing to buy her adorable infant daughter, though passers-by did leave her with a stack of cash totaling several hundred yuan.
Just last week in China, a baby was found buried alive after its mother thought it was stillborn. But the case of Ni Qiong and Zhou Xinggui is very different.
In this case, the real crime appears not that a woman tried to sell her daughter but that the Chinese health care system is so inadequate that any person would be reduced to such a desperate measure.
Two years ago, in another case that made international news, a farmer suffering from severe arterial thrombosis was told he could not get his leg amputated because the procedure was just too expensive. His income was about $400 per month. The cost of leg amputation was $48,000.
So the man cut his own leg off.
At least report, Ni Qiong had not been able to sell her daughter and the family still waits for the Chinese government to help.