One of the root causes for corruption in China is that government officials, doctors and others get a very low pay. Shaun Rein describes in Forbes why the idea of ending up in a Chinese hospital sometimes keeps him awake at night:
Why is there so much corruption in China’s health care system? Part of the problem is that doctors make so little. A brain surgeon named Dr. Xie at a famous hospital complained to me that he officially made only $400 a month, which is less than many factory workers now get. Doctors can’t make money legally, he lamented. Some 95% of hospitals are state-owned, and the government caps consultations at $2 to $3 even for the country’s most famous doctors, so that even peasants can afford to see the best ones.
Patients keep on paying their doctors bribes, so they can get the best possible help. While in the industry, salaries are going up, in hospitals and in government wage developments do not keep up with those developments and inflation. Keeping the costs low for patients, is one of the reason hospitals cannot pay a decent salary. Shaun Rein gives the examples of the San Francisco police department and the Singapore government, where decent salaries halt corruption and improve the quality of the services. Shaun Rein:
There was shock last year when one official’s diary detailing his sexual escapades hit the Internet. People were shocked not that he had taken bribes to pay for weekly visits to hookers but that those bribes had totaled only $10,000 over many years. They thought the amount would be much greater.