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Internet provides new way to raise funds for sick people, alleviating poverty

By Chen Meiling | | Updated: 2017-03-15 17:16

An online platform providing financial assistance to sick people could help promote targeted poverty alleviation, an NPC deputy said during the two sessions.

The online platform is a community of members who pay a small fee to register which then allows them to claim financial assistance if diagnosed with particular diseases, said Zhang Tianren, a deputy to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, and president of Tianren Group.

In June 2016, Wang Pei'an, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said 42 percent of poor families were trapped by illness.

"There are gaps that current social security cannot cover. Also, some cheating behavior has disappointed the public now and then," he said.

In late January, a man surnamed Zheng got 300,000 yuan after being diagnosed with cancer by online assistance platform Zhongtopia. The money was raised by 55 million members who each contributed 0.06 yuan.

According to the official website of Zhongtopia, it costs 10 yuan to register as a member. Each member is then eligible to claim up to 300,000 yuan from the membership fee pool if they can prove they have one of 77 severe diseases or 34 specific diseases.

The diagnosis must be certified by an independent third party.

Projects target different groups, including women, children, college students, doctors who get injured at work and people who become disabled by outdoor activities.

The online platform has low entry barriers and low costs, and has developed fast over the last year. It should be further promoted as a new method to get people out of poverty, Zhang said.

Zhang Yaojun, professor at the School of Sociology and Population Studies of Renmin University said the online assistance programs are a supplement to the country's social security system.

Standardized online assistance could raise money in a short time from multiple sources. Also, it could cover fields which medical security doesn't involve, Zhang said.

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