China covers coronavirus medical bills for citizens; now it's US' turn
Published: Mar 22, 2020 02:07 PM


What are the most serious challenges of preventing and controlling the coronavirus in Beijing and Washington? The key is whether China and the US can ensure timely and effective treatment of the four types of people: low or no income and low or no medical insurance.

This is a test of the economic strength of the two countries, which is a test of two different medical security systems, and a test of the fairness of the national governance systems.

Time reported that one uninsured American woman got the virus, and her medical bills total $34,927.43. There is no doubt that no low-income family can afford this unless a US state pays the bill. 

In China, a report from the Health Times said that many patients with a mild condition had a rough estimate cost of nearly 100,000 yuan ($14,090), while some patients with a severe condition had spent hundreds of thousands of yuan. This does not include the country's other investments to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

So far, China has implemented a policy of covering the bills for all of the patients for the treatment of coronavirus. This is an unprecedented investment in medical insurance. The challenge facing the US is more severe than that in China. First, the governments at all levels must provide adequate funding for free and fair treatment for all people, and second the cost of the test and diagnosis in the US is generally higher than that in China.

According to the US Congressional Budget Office, about 30 million Americans cannot afford any insurance, accounting for about 10 percent of the total population. Testing and diagnosis among these people is the key to effective prevention and control of the coronavirus in the US.

The author is a commentator with the Global Times.