The Iron Ricebowl
48 years ago, before modern government reforms in China. Li Jing from Bejing would statistically live until 53. In today’s China, the life expectancy among men is 75 years old.

How does Li Jing compare to Thijs from Amsterdam and Mike from Los Angeles?
Life Expectancy
China’s life expectancy boom is a result of government reforms involving mandatory health insurance, the formation of tens of thousands experts in health care and the establishment of a myriad of hospitals and medical centres.

Because of this Li Jing's life has increased
by 22 years. But, at what cost?
Healthcare Expenditure
Li Jing                                                         Thijs                                                            Mike
Reforms secured mandatory health insurance for all, but locked citizens to ‘Red packages’ (Hong Bao or bribes). For an appointment with a doctor, Li Jing has to pay nearly half of his monthly income (400 Yuan or 44 US dollar) under the table and on top of health insurance.

A door to a sickly room was unlocked when government reforms started. Today, the door is wide open. How come Thijs and Mike never had to go through that door?
Corruption Perception Index
The 2011 corruption perceptions index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption around the world on a scale of 1 to 170.
The closer to 170, the more corrupt a country. The closer to 1, the cleaner the country.
Stagnant wages is part of the answer. While citizens have seen their health improve over the past years, doctors’ wages have stayed the same. This instigated an incentive for corruption throughout the healthcare system, causing Li Jing to pay the doctor's pocket money.

But would Li Jing's doctor go through an economic crisis without his ‘Red packages’? How is the situation compared to Thijs and Mike's doctors?
Annual Wages of Healthcare Personel in US Dollars
The other part of the answer to the corruption situation of China comes from developed countries like The Netherlands and the USA. GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi. Just three of many pharmaceutical companies recently investigated by the Chinese government for bribing healthcare officials to sell their medication.

By merging with, and aqcuiring Chinese pharmaceutical companies, they bring their products to Chinese citizens like Li Jing through their own doctors.
Mergers and acquisitions within the Chinese healthcare, by deal value in %
Foreign companies offer bribes, kickbacks and payoffs to make healthcare practicioners sell foreign medicine and make huge profits. On top of that doctors require mandatory bribes for standard healthcare. A steep price for Li Jing's improving health?

While China pays, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi grow richer as China's medical industry enters its greatest phase of growth yet...