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Reaching prosperity ep.4: Chongqing fund helps poor with medical costs

Reporter: Meng Qingsheng 丨 CCTV.com

10-18-2016 12:55 BJT

Today we continue our special report on China's efforts to eradicate poverty in the southwest region.

Medical costs are often a huge burden for low-income families in rural areas. The situation is worsened when someone loses the ability to work as a result of disease or injury. The district of Qiangjiang in Chongqing Municipality has launched a special medical fund to help people cope with the costs.

14-year old Liu Qing learned to cook at a small age. His mother died from cancer ten years ago. And now his father, Liu Huabing, has been diagnosed with a form of terminal nasal cancer.

"It's a pity that I have totally lost my ability to work. I am unable to make a living now," said Liu Huabing, patient of Lin'E village, Chongqing.

"I've had a hard time since learning about my dad's cancer. I felt like it all came so suddenly," said Liu Qing.

The father Liu worries about expensive medical costs, piling up from a year spent in hospital. His daughter has come back from college to discuss a plan for follow-up treatment. She says the talk is hard.
 
"If there were any effective treatments, I would encourage my dad to take them. But the financial burden makes him hesitate. I hope he just goes for it and forgets the economics of it. Money can be earned, but life can never be returned," said Liu Meirong.

More than 11,000 households in Qianjiang suffer from poverty. And nearly half of the cases are caused by illnesses.

For many people living in these mountains, medical costs are a huge problem. This in turn worsens their health and keeps them in poverty. But policies are now in place to ease their financial burden and help them get better treatment.

The social security department expanded its medical support program last year, to help those stricken by poverty. It's the first such effort across the country.

"Before we set up this special medical fund, about 50 to 60 percent of the medical costs would be reimbursed. But now, the rate hits as high as 90 percent," said Zhang Zhongshu, chief of Qiangjiang Social Security Bureau. 

Professor Li Mankui has been studying the effectiveness of the program. He says the well-targeted plan will help eradicate poverty.

He said, "It can be duplicated by other areas in Chongqing and other areas. The percentage of low-income families is going to be reduced gradually. So the target group of Qianjiang is low-income family. That's pretty small group of people. It will pose small, if any, financial challenge for the government budget."

Liu Huabing is a beneficiary of these special funds. 90 percent of his medical costs have been reimbursed.

Liu Huabing said, "I owe special thanks to this medical support policy. Without this help, I would not have made it this far."

Liu used to make a living as a coal miner. The hard labour deprived him of time to relax. But now, he is peaceful with family members around, and waiting for the next treatment.

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