Lying for Healthcare & Killing to Avoid It
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
Obamacare is first on the chopping block now he-who-should-not-be-named has taken to the Oval Office and the British NHS is reportedly in a dire state of emergency, despite the extra £350 million a week diverted away from the EU (or at least I’m sure I saw that on a bus somewhere?). To all accord, it appears that Western healthcare is abhorrently failing us and depriving us of a basic human right. What our comfortability of this entitlement omits, is the realisation that for many around the world, healthcare is a modern luxury and in China, it appears to be a game of Russian roulette.
Fraudulent claims of traffic accidents are in no way an exception in China, with as high as 1 in 3 claims in New York being faked. The problem with China is that the stakes are a little higher than playing your insurance company; you could just win healthcare for life. Under Chinese & Taiwanese laws, should you injure a person, you are expected to compensate their healthcare bills. Now, this sounds extremely fair in theory, but in practice, our human nature shines. The internet is rife with videos of Chinese “car accidents” where you see the “victim” throw themselves on the bonnet of a passing car. The con is so common it has a name – “broke vase trick”, taken from an old con in which a broken vase would be made to look fine but would fall apart on an unsuspecting potential customer who would be forced to compensate the shop owner for the damage. Similarly, people have been known to (and caught on camera) lay down in the road to play the injured lamb for the good Samaritan who stops to help, who in turn will be reimbursed by accusations that they hit the victim followed by demands for financial compensation.
Sure, it all sounds a little sleazy but perhaps not the worst crime you can think of, am I right? It’s a solvable problem when you consider the high number of drivers in China who have installed dash-cams to avoid this issue. In fact, it’s all a little laughable when you consider the hilarious videos seen here. Least you forget that every coin has two sides and the dire repercussions of this seemingly good-willed law are unthinkable. We can see the cost of hitting someone with your car is high and perhaps the outcome here should be increasingly cautious drivers. Nonetheless, the side effect here is what is known as “double hit cases”.
“Double hit cases” occur, exactly as the term implies, when a driver deliberately hits the victim twice, if not more times. Admittedly, we have all considered hitting our ex with a car two or three or seventy-five times. The key difference between our imagined crime of passion and the cases in China is that they are fuelled by economic self-interest. The price tag on murdering your car accident victim is simply lower than the potential of paying for life long health care for them. The one-off fee for murder, a “burial fee” is estimated at approximately $30,000-$50,000 whereas the healthcare redress for those seriously harmed in an accident has been known to spike into the millions. In the adrenaline from the moment of impact, what do many drivers choose to do? Reverse over their victim and seal their fate.
In recent years, Chinese governments have spoken out condemning “double hit cases” but also currently have not published any statistics on neither proven cases nor allegations. The possible reason for the limited data available is due to rife corruption; the cases that make it to court often fall in favour of the driver. Now this may be in part driven by the high number of fraudulent attempts of faking car accidents, but more worryingly, is how common it is for a court to rule the case as manslaughter (and therefore reduced penance) when the defendant claims they believed the victim was a “rubbish bag” or “cardboard box”. Even when caught on camera running over victims repeatedly, this defence has held up repeatedly in many cases.
It is not uncommon for officials or families of the deceased to be bribed by a wealthy criminal, not to mention the access to high-ranking lawyers plays in favour of the elite in China. Disturbingly, a trend of “substitute criminals” has also emerged. Meaning that if you are fortunately well-endowed with Chinese Yuan Renminbi, a lookalike on the other side of the poverty line will likely sign up to do your jail time for a financial reward. Therefore, even if a victim’s family have fought hard for their justice, there is no assurance that the actual murderer will be the one sat behind bars.
There is clearly a HUGE moral factor here that is being overlooked because the fear of the economic disadvantage outweighs the guilt of second-degree murder. The practice of this sickening injustice is nothing new and is clarified in a Chinese proverb: “it is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure”. In the statistics available, it is considered that for every 4 injuries obtained in car accidents in China, 1 victim will die. Comparable to 70-1 in the United States.
Taking on personal experience from my time working in Shenzhen, I can assure you these numbers are not purely from “double hit cases”. This complete lapse of moral consciousness aside, driving practices are considerably more dangerous in China. Phone use whilst driving is still abundant, drink driving is considerably more socially acceptable and the use of seatbelts is not as prevalent as Western standards. In my time in Chinese childcare, I have had to explain to a mother why her toddler should at the least be buckled into a seat, if not in a booster seat rather than running around the minivan. The remark was meet with indifference from the tiger mother to disgust from the ayi (live-in nanny for the children). This kind of disregard for the safety of their own children shows the general attitude of ambivalence to road rules shown by the Chinese.
Admittedly, when I managed to get the toddler to sit on my lap and fastened the seatbelt around him, he repaid me for his safety by hitting at me, spitting at me and pulling my hair. At which point, I wondered whether I would reverse over him…
So, what is the moral of this story? Just stay off the roads in China.