Serious ailments are expensive to treat, but they are even more expensive to treat for China’s poor.
For years, Chinese patients with life-threatening conditions have been expected to draw on the finances of their relatives and friends. But in recent years, some are taking their stories to crowdfunding platforms.
But with the successful funding of several treatments, fraudsters have taken up residence on the same platforms to siphon money out of the public’s good will.
In late October, the story of a “patient” seeking 300,000 yuan on the crowdfunding platform Qschou.com for treatment at Suzhou Municipal Hospital appeared on Weibo.
In their crowdfunding appeal, the patient’s family wrote how they spent all their savings on the woman’s breast cancer treatment. The next phase of treatment would cost about 60,000 yuan per month, they said.
But on October 26, a Weibo user who claimed to work at the hospital said doctors never give patients such an estimate and 300,000 yuan is far more than the average patient spends on breast cancer treatment.
A scanned copy of the hospital’s diagnosis displayed on the crowdfunding request said the patient had cancer of the left breast, but the family said the woman had cancer in both breasts.
Many netizens lashed out at the family and platform.
Qschou.com showed the crowdfunding campaign began on October 25. The day after criticism began on Weibo, the family changed its requested funds from 300,000 yuan to 50,000 yuan. In an October 28 update, they said 300,000 yuan would only be the cost “in the worst situation.”
Beijing Youth Daily reporters contacted the daughter of the patient, a woman surnamed Shi. She said her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in October. After seven days in the hospital, doctors decided to surgically remove two of three tumors. She said her mother returned home near the end of the month, when she decided to start the crowdfunding campaign.
Shi said her mother’s case is the first time she has ever operated a crowdfunding campaign. Most of the donations came from colleagues and friends, she said.
A spokesperson for Suzhou Municipal Hospital confirmed that Shi’s mother was receiving treatment at the hospital, and that the family’s expenses thus far reached 17,350 yuan. Shi herself paid 6,400 yuan, and the remainder was covered by national health insurance.
Shi began chemotherapy on October 27, with treatments costing 5,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan for each session. Insurance covers 30 to 40 percent of the total cost.
A spokesperson for Qschou.com said the platform decided to close Shi’s campaign when they became aware of the discrepancy between her medical diagnosis and statement. The platform did not contact Shi’s doctor to confirm the details.
The staff said that although the crowdfunding campaign is closed, the money it raised remains in Qschou.com’s accounts. The company said it would transfer the 50,000 yuan to the hospital after confirming Shi’s diagnosis.
This was not the first time that patients on Qschou.com were involved in cheating.
In February, many social media channels were flooded with retweets about a funding campaign by a student studying abroad in Germany. The 26-year-old man surnamed Xie said he was diagnosed leukemia and needed millions of yuan for treatment.
Xie’s friends in China helped to spread the news, and within two days they had raised more than 500,000 yuan on Qschou.com.
However, people who live and study in Germany said all students are required to buy public health insurance which covers the cost of medicine and treatment. In his crowdfunding appeal, Xie said his medicine cost €6,000 and treatment would cost millions.
Qschou.com froze the account and sent a volunteer to Germany to investigate.
In June, 24-year-old Wang Hao (pseudonym) was diagnosed uremia and raised more than 80,000 yuan on Qschou.com. Several months later, he purchased a new SUV in cash. A spokesperson for the platform said Wang’s crowdfunding campaign ended in June and the money was transferred to his personal account.
New Law Published
Chang Sha, a lawyer at Beijing Jingdu Law Firm, said Chinese law does not forbid crowdfunding platforms, but that they should also have investigatory and supervisory abilities similar to charities. They must also keep complete records of crowdfunding requests and user profiles.
In August, the Ministry of Civil Affairs revised its regulation on Chinese charities, requiring all to use platforms subject to the ministry’s supervision.
Platforms that are not authenticated by the ministry are forbidden to post any charity requests.
There are 13 platforms approved by the ministry, including Ali Financial, China Foundation Center, Xinhua Charity Service and Gongyibao.cn. Most bear a statement about charity regulations on their front page to remind donors and applicants.