In China, medical care is extremely unequally distributed. Those who live in the countryside dare not fall ill, because there’s usually not enough money for treatment. Health insurance covers only 40 or 50 percent of the costs.
The farmers have to pay in advance, so they rarely go to a doctor and avoid hospitals completely. 39-year-old Chen Zilliang had worked as a computer programmer until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Doctors recommended surgery and chemotherapy, but he can’t afford them. In cities, medical care is much better. People care about their health, but also worry that a severe illness might wipe out their savings.