Xiao Caiyu, wife, mother and entrepreneur, who lives in the wealthy Guangdong province in southern China, has been forced to close the family pork business that she and her family have run for years, a business that allowed them to tuck away a savings of over 30,000 yuan–the equivalent of $5,000–since cancer treatment for Caiyu began.
The diagnosis of cervical cancer a little over a year ago has entirely wiped out the savings of Xiao and her family, and has buried them under a pile of debt. As Bloomberg reports, “her insurance covers about 65 percent of fees and procedures. Even so, her treatment has forced them to borrow as much as 40,000 yuan ($6,450).”
Unfortunately, It is a common occurrence in China that when families who have found prosperity, thanks to the country’s economic boom, often find themselves in financial ruin when a cancer diagnosis is given. The nation provides health insurance and coverage, yet the costs of cancer treatment and the expensive medications far exceed the amount allocated with the coverage offered.
Sadly, Xiao Caiyu and her family are victims of this very outcome. A heartbreaking statement by Caiyu highlights the tragic reality of her situation that, sadly, many Chinese cancer patients are also experiencing. Bloomberg quotes the 52-year-old mother of three.
“If the cancer gets worse I won’t get treatment. What treatment? There’s no money… Village folks like us are good for nothing. When we get sick like this, we just wait for death.”
Xiao Caiyu has decided to forego treatment and face the deadly disease without the necessary healthcare for the purpose of ensuring her family can be relieved of their debt — a decision no one should have to make when in the grips of something so horrible.
The cancer diagnosis was given to Xiao Caiyu in July 2013 and has turned her family’s life upside down. Her husband was forced to find two better-paying jobs and her son, who worked as a flashlight assembler, was forced to quit in order to care for his mother. The family shared that having meat on the dinner table is even a luxury to them at this point.
The statistics in China are staggering when noting the number of cases of cancer in the nation that exist. Bloomberg communicates how daunting the numbers are.
“China has the world’s largest number of cancer cases and deaths, driven by a rapidly aging population, environmental pollution and lifestyle changes. If current trends continue, cancer could cost China about $5.6 trillion in lost output from 2012 to 2030, a group of researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions estimated.”
The Wall Street Journal, however, has recently drawn comparisons to the structure of the Chinese healthcare system and that of the United States and finds that the two aren’t far removed, noting that much like in the U.S., “[m]ore than 40 percent of Chinese get benefits through an account funded by employers. Most of the reset are covered under a separate system aimed at China’s west rural population.”
With an estimated 3.07 million new cancer cases annually, according to the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, that translates into a diagnosis every ten seconds and 2.2 million deaths from cancer each year. The Chinese government is working on a way to increase insurance coverage for diseases that are financially draining, such as cancer; however, the changes really aren’t happening fast enough for those like Xiao, who are suffering from the current system’s coverage in the present.
[Feature image via Bloomberg]