Anger after elderly woman not allowed to pay in cash for health insurance
Published: Nov 25, 2020 02:25 AM

A screenshot of a video of an elderly woman not being allowed to pay in cash for her health insurance and sitting helplessly at a service counter. Photo: Weibo

A video of an elderly woman not being allowed to pay in cash for her health insurance and sitting helplessly at a service counter ignited anger among Chinese netizens on Tuesday, who voiced concern that elderly people are being left out of the information era. 

In the video, a grey-haired old woman in a cotton-padded coat is sitting by a service counter while a member of staff at the counter says impatiently, “Either you download Alipay [an online payment platform] and pay the insurance on your mobile phone, or you contact a family member [to help you].” The old woman looked obviously helpless and confused.

The event was later acknowledged by an official from Yichang Municipal Medical Insurance Bureau, who said it happened in Maoping Township, Zigui County of the city of Yichang, Central China’s Hubei Province, according to Toutiao News.

The video quickly went viral on China’s Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo on Tuesday and the related topic was viewed 290 million times on the platform, attracting more than 58,000 comments.

"Some elderly people do not know how to pay with a mobile phone; some don’t even have a mobile phone. Why don’t policymakers take convenience for the elderly into consideration? Don’t leave them behind,” said a user named Smile of Mianjie on Sino Weibo.

Township and village level offices have the duty to collect and pay the medical insurance on behalf of the residents. Residents can pay by cash, mobile apps, bank cards or go to designated banks, said the official from Yichang Municipal Medical Insurance Bureau, according to Toutiao News.

The official said they were currently working with the local health department and publicity department to investigate the event.

According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, by 2019, the number of people over the age of 65 reached 175.9 million, accounting for 12.56% of the country's overall population of 1.4 billion.

"It is predicted that China's elderly population [over the age of 60] will exceed 300 million,” said Jia Weizhou, spokesperson for the Ministry of Civil Affairs, at a regular press conference on Oct 23. 

This is not the only news about elderly people encountering difficulties in using smart technology that has caused widespread concern among the public. 

Last week, a video shot in In Guangshui, Central China’s Hubei Province, also provoked an outcry among netizens, in which a 94-year-old woman was picked up by her family to complete a video authentication process at a bank Virtual Teller Machine.

The bank has publicly apologized, saying the incident had exposed its lack of service awareness, for which they will carry out special rectification to improve the quality of services.