How Capitalism Ruined China’s Health Care System | NYT News

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[music] This is Zhang Zhejun. Today, he’s making drugs. He isn’t a chemist
or a dealer. He’s making medicine
for his mother. She has stage 3
lung cancer. Zhejun earns $300 a month,
but the medicine needed to treat his
sick mother costs $2,000. Looking for options,
he turned online. Today, he’s making WZ4002. It hasn’t been approved
by Chinese or American regulators, and it doesn’t
have a commercial name yet. But he can still order
the raw ingredients for drugs like this
online at a fraction of their official prices. The Communist Party
of China says it provides close to universal
health care coverage. Nearly 95 percent of people
are insured here, including Zhejun’s mother. So why is he making drugs on
the floor of his apartment when his mother has insurance? It’s a symptom of a
health care system in crisis. To understand this crisis,
we need to rewind a bit. Under Mao Zedong,
the Communist state provided free
health care for all. Decades later, China adopted
a unique brand of capitalism that transformed the country
from a poor farming nation into an economic superpower. Life expectancy soared. But the introduction
of capitalism and the retreat of the state
meant that health care was no longer free. Hospitals became
profit-driven. And with limited
accountability, they were widely accused
of predatory behavior. A culture of mistrust
and inequality now plagued the system. Here’s what that looks like
today for ordinary Chinese. It’s 5 a.m., and
about 100 people have gathered in a line
in downtown Shanghai. This isn’t the line to the
movies or a holiday sale. It’s the entrance to
the Shanghai Cancer Center at Fudan University. Those who were willing to
lose a night’s sleep trying to get a spot in line now have
one question in their mind: “Will I be able to
see a doctor today?” The scalpers are
out, and they’re selling spots in line. China’s line scalpers
symbolize a greater dysfunction. The chance of seeing a doctor
here is directly related to how big your wallet is. Corruption is inherently
part of the system. And in rural areas, it’s worse. But leaving your home
in the countryside could have a profound
impact on what type of care you can get in the city. Despite its rapid
modernization, China still uses what is
known as the Hukou system. Your Hukou is defined
by your birthplace, and you’re only entitled
to social services within that region. Everything from the schools
your kids can go to, to what your
health insurance will cover is determined the
moment you are born. So if you get cancer
and live in an area without an oncologist,
you could be in trouble. Some here compare it
to a caste system. By 7 a.m., it’s one hour
before opening time. The line has tripled in size,
and then the news hits. Those are not good odds. But even worse,
they aren’t unusual. There are nearly 7,000 people
per general practitioner in China. To put this number
in perspective, the World Health Organization’s international standard is
one doctor for every 1,500 to 2,000 people. General practitioners
we talked to in China typically see 70 to 80
patients per day. Specialists said
they see up to 200, each just for
minutes at a time. The doctors we
talked to in the U.S. said they see fewer
than 30 patients a day. While rich Chinese will
pay for individual care or leave the country
altogether for it, the rest of the population,
those dependent on health insurance, end up
paying roughly 30 percent of their health care costs. Americans pay about 10. Numbers like these have added
up to a culture of conflict. With more and more patients
and underpaid doctors, violence has
become commonplace in hospitals across China. And with the state insurance
system not meeting the rising costs of
treatments and drugs, medical disputes
often play out in public on the
hospital floor. Violence in hospitals has
become so common in China, there’s a word
for it — yi nao. Roughly translated, it’s
medical disturbance. Back at the Shanghai hospital,
it’s opening time. Scalpers are making
a last effort to sell off
doctors appointments they secured in advance. Some that wouldn’t
wait, or couldn’t afford the scalpers’ tickets,
try to cut in line and are thrown out
by security guards. Once in the hospital, patients
will stand in another line. It’s the second, and
there are more to come. They scan the board of
available specialists, selecting one based on
their best self-diagnosis. If they’re lucky,
the one they choose will have time to see them. For those who
choose wrong, the cycle will begin again tomorrow. Others prefer to solve
their problems at home.


  1. evil new York times….  New York Times' Anti-China Propaganda …Shame on new York times….. !!!!!!!

  2. Every country’s health care system is not perfect. But this video is far exaggerated. I hope NYTimes keeps making this kind of video to fool Americans until they realize their mainstream media has no credit.

  3. You picked the wrong topic. I’ve lived in both China and NZ for over 15 years. For me I would rather pay for a flight ticket to China and see doctors there if I have a serious disease, than to see a GP here in NZ and wait forever for them to book me a specialist, and further procedures. I know for sure that Chinese doctors are way more experienced and cost is covered mostly by social insurance. Of course there will be a line up at the best hospitals but if you make an appointment in advance, there is no need to queue up early in the morning. Ive read it on the news that just recently a guy in NZ lost part of his head due to the long waiting process. One time I went to the hospital in NZ for a minor injury and the nurse tried at least five times on both of my arms to get my blood before giving up and asking a senior nurse for help. Another time my one year old had a fever and diarrhea going for a whole day and we took him to the hospital in the evening and were kept waiting for a whole night before the doctor sHowed up to see him. Point is, NZ health system is free but too much waiting unless you are in a life threatening condition and the doctors/nurses are just inefficient. Whereas the Chinese health system only cost very little amount of money but they do a great job and are very efficient considering the huge population differences.

  4. This NYT video is a naked example of the definition of propaganda.

    If you don't know the Chinese language, please watch this if you care for what is truth vs lies:

  5. I am a chinese ,there are too many translate mistakes in these video. i can not believe it's just a mistake because all of these mistakes make people fell China's healthy care is so expensive and western country's healthy is very cheap,but in fact chinese medical price is not as expensive as nyt said,every Chinese citizen have“医保” ,“医保”is like a insurance,but “医保” is not issue by any company,is issue by Chinese government,and is only about 400RMB(about65USD) per year,when you have a big illness,Chinese government will pay 90%-99% medical price,to be honest,there are some problem in chinese healthy care system,but is not as big as nyt said,every country's healthy care has it own problem,so do the USA,as a big media,nyt should spread some real thing in china but not malicious smear,i think nyt is ordering by us government,in the end,i'd wanna say:fvck you trump

  6. Come on CRAZY NYT, tell your American fellows the truth! Do you know when some Chinese in your country get sick, they prefer to fly back to China, get cured, and then fly back to the US? I myself is an example for my eye surgery. By the way, I have insurance here, but it is still incredibly expensive. Why? Ambulance, $70 in China, $1000 in the US. My eye surgery, $80 in China and the government will further cover 90% of it, $2000+ in the US. A bed for my recovery in hospitals, $30 in China per day and the government further cover 90% of it, $200+ in the US. The time I need to wait, two days in China for the whole surgery, 2 weeks I was told by your doctor for the stupid one-page assay. Are they so high-tech that they are willing to test my DNA in those two weeks? My mother in law, a doctor who takes care of one whole department of her hospital, earn less than $1500 a month and even wake up 2 am to help her patients with no extra payment. How much do doctors here earn?

  7. The American government is so afraid of the socialized healthcare system they feel the need to bash other country's just to lie to their own people.

  8. USA, one of the biggest liars in the world

    watch this before you started to insult china,its not what western media always says

  9. Intentional misinterpretation and mistranslation. Shame on The New York Times. Not sure who should feel more offended, misinterpreted Chinese people, or misleaded American audience. watch this first

  10. LIAR! Why western media always make up China's scandals? If you can be paid to do whatever they want you to do to fool your people, you are no better than that "China" in your imagination. Western countries are so free that media here can brainwash people however they like.
    I was going to clarify some stupid lies about this video but this guy's already did that.
    New York Times.Hope you can make more money by telling people lies

  11. shameful faux journalism. take this offline already. or better yet, leave it here so that everyone can laugh at you.

  12. i feel like capitalism has made china better and worse
    but capitalism did not make china worse this way..

  13. Capitalism is not the problem it is the answer there is a high demand for doctors then why is there no more doctors Perhaps it is a lack of incentives to become a doctor and waste a good portion of your life at Medical School

  14. What disturbs me the most is this "documentary" or "news" accusing the Chinese health care industry for capitalism over prizing and lack of medical resources and it was came from United states?! it as ironic as North Korean accusing Norway(the most democratic country) for dictatorship. Aside from it is full of intentional misleading translations and lies, none of any evidences provided in this "News" can stands for any valuation since there are no direct comparison with any other countries(may be with the best health care such as Germany or Japan). This video was MADE and PUBLISHED by New-York-Time United States, where has the MOST expensive and the MOST privileged health care system around the global!!! not even mention the inefficient insurances companies sky rocked the medical fees to its own people. I know it is very common to spreads negative propaganda towards other nations but this "documentary" film with quotation marks is just too ironic to be taken serious, consider the publishers themselves didn't even bother to put any effort to support those BS(majority of this film) they created.

  15. Have you completely lost your mind? I know digital media like Buzzfeed is coming after you, but you don't have to stoop this low.

  16. 这家人好可怜,本来就发生了这么伤心的事,还被人采访利用做这种不实的污蔑性报道

  17. Blaming capitalism while showing state run hospitals? Visit an actual private hospital in China and see the difference.


    My question is, who sponsored this bullsh*t behind The New York Times?
    Oh well, doesn't matter anymore, another untrustworthy resource as ususal

  19. Nathan Rich debunks the lies in this video. NYT has no credibly, Trump is correct about that.

  20. Whatever you report denouncing China’s abuse on its citizens, Chinese people will defend it and accuse you of misrepresenting a reality that only them get it right!

  21. Wow, so New York Times can’t even find a good translater? There is so many mistakes in this video. I am a Chinese myself so I know what it is like in China, and I’m pretty sure it’s NOT like that, what a shame. My grandfather goes to the hospital at least once a week, he doesn’t need to stay in line, he book online! It’s way much easier, I don’t get it way they say if there isn’t a doctor then people are in trouble, I just want to know in what universe do you not get in trouble if there isn’t any doctor. If your family passed away won’t you be angry? Won’t you throw things around and shout? Like brah, learn the Chinese culture before you even talk about it!

  22. Lying and misleading. That is what NYT is. How about making a video about How The World Is Ruined By NYT.

  23. Although there are some inaccuracies in this video, the problems it depicts do exist in China. Poor ppl suffer a lot when they get cancer or other serious illnesses. But things are improving since they at least have some sort of health care (better drugs often not covered) now compared to a decade before. Good medical services would be more accessible if the CCP gov spend more money in health care and funding the state-owned hospitals instead of lavishing money on political crackdown & buying Taiwan-friendly countries.

  24. This guy is trying to save his dying mother! Shame on you New York Times! Cancer is very expensive to treat!

  25. Can't help laugh at this video. The US could criticize many aspects of China but the health care system? Are you kidding me? Save your own system first!

  26. most if not all the translations in this video is totally wrong. Not to mention totally wrong information to spread mis-information.

    So NYT becomes a propaganda organisation now?

  27. More people should know that NYT is full of groundless anti China propaganda. Check out the perspective from an honest American citizen who lives in China

  28. china real infrastructure and unfair resources allocation problems , NYtimes is leftwing progressive and blame this on capitalism! But wrong! it is due to China’s state controlled system of mismanagement and unfair systems and unfair resources allocations amongst the ordinary folks and POITICAL ELITE who can go straight to Beijing Military hospital for immediate priority treatment if you are part of the rare top elites.

  29. this is not from NYtimes >>>China’s hospital overcrowding problem


  30. This is NOT from NYTimes, Hospital / Medical infrastructure in China

    大撒币 中共 国内的 医疗情况, 真是 “很有钱”的,都拿去外国 卖面子去了, 不给家奴 。。。台湾蓝营/柯粉丝 要亲大陆, 就别只看中共的片面 “报喜不报忧” 的假“强大”

  31. This is probaly how a badly planned out hoax works, now remember those that well thought out and how many of them worked?

  32. Here is an excellent link debunking all of the lies by this NYT “journalist”. It is a must watch.

  33. Do Americans would take care their mother like Zhejun?
    No,they wouldn't.Because they bielieve freedom and enjoyment.

  34. I am living in a second-tier city in China and every time I went to the hospital, I can get quick and effective treatments, for both extremely emergency situation or just normal cold. Doctors are patient and responsible, and always try their best to relieve my pain. The clinic charge is no more than 5 dollars (10-20 Chinese yuan), and the issuance can cover most of the medical expenses. My friend went to hospital because of getting cold in an western country, he made an appointment and waiting for two days to see his doctor, the clinic fee is ten times as many as China’s and the doctor just told him to drink more hot water.

  35. I read a book about the communist revolution in China. It praised the excellent healthcare system in China back then. Why the government gave that up?

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