Guangzhou retirees stage mass protests over health insurance payout cuts

According to protest videos posted online, large numbers of people gathered outside Guangzhou’s local personnel and social security bureau on Jan. 11 to protest the sudden cut in payments to personal medical insurance accounts. .

It is the latest protest in a series of large-scale rallies in the city, a commercial hub in southern China and home to Guangdong province. Some participants told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times that they had protested since the reduction began in December.

“government [of Guangzhou] Lin, who lives in Guangzhou, told The Epoch Times.

He gave only his surname for fear of retaliation from the Chinese government.

Personal health insurance is a very important source of funding for retirees, who use it to pay for outpatient visits, treatments, tests, scans, drugs, and other medical expenses purchased from hospitals and pharmacies.

Retirees also protested in front of provincial and municipal government buildings in December, Lin said.

“We went to the Guangdong Provincial Letters and Visits Bureau and the Guangzhou Municipal Medical Safety Bureau last month, but no officials came to see us,” Lin said, complaining about the authorities’ treatment of retirees. said.

Liu (pseudonym), a retiree from a Guangzhou alloy steel factory, told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times that more than 1,000 retirees took part in a protest in front of the Guangzhou Medical Safety Bureau on Jan. 11. rice field.

“We are now going to the letter and visit office twice a week to demand the government return our money,” said Liu.

The Chinese Communist Party regime uses the Office of Letters and Visits to deal with Chinese petitioners who lodge complaints against the regime’s government officials. Chinese human rights lawyer Wu Xiaoping has called these offices “systematic traps” for petitioners because they are “just a tactic to use up both people’s time and money.” increase.

Police vehicles lined the streets and closely monitored protesters, as seen in an online video of the January 11 protest. More officers were seen sitting in a bus parked nearby. Police surrounded the protest site with a fence. In one of the online clips, the protesters were negotiating with a man outside a government building. In one video, a retiree is said to have been beaten by police.

The Epoch Times was unable to confirm the authenticity of the video.

Lin said he uploaded the protest post to a Chinese social media platform, but it was quickly removed by the regime’s internet censorship.

Payment Deductions Illegal: Retirees

Retirees claim that payments to personal health insurance accounts are private property because they are paid from their own contributions and contributions paid by their employers before retirement.

Lin said he has been donating to medical insurance funds for over 20 years.

“The money in our personal medical insurance account is not government budget. It is our own donation that comes from our monthly income,” said Lynn.

According to Lin, Guangzhou residents and their employers were required to contribute 2% and 8%, respectively, of employees’ basic monthly salaries to the city’s medical insurance pool. The retiree was receiving a monthly payment of 484 yuan to his personal medical insurance account before local authorities changed their policy to reduce payments.

of provincial When Municipality The governments have issued new medical insurance documents for 2021 and 2022, respectively, but neither said specific amounts to be paid to employees or retirees.

However, the state government report By a local state-run news outlet that explained the change in health insurance policy. According to the report, retirees will be paid 169 yuan (about $35) a month to their personal medical accounts under the new policy. It also writes that local governments will “exchange” private health insurance funds for social health insurance pools.

Liu said she was forced to pay more than 100,000 yuan ($14,700) in social security and medical insurance before retirement due to her retirement pension and medical insurance. “This is private insurance that we purchased with our own money,” Liu said.

Mr. Li (a pseudonym), a retiree from Guangzhou, accused the local government of being unreasonable and violating Chinese law.

“Government, our money [personal medical insurance] It’s a waste because I just deposit it in the bank. They said we didn’t have to pay that much as we hadn’t used up our deposit. That means you don’t need that many.

“Do they also want to rob people of their personal savings in the bank?

deficit mounting

Lin believes payments have fallen as local governments struggle with budget deficits due to the zero COVID policy of the past three years.

“The lockdown has caused many businesses to go bankrupt in the last three years. How can the government get the money when the business collapses?” Lin said.

In addition to the economic setback, governments have spent a lot of money on COVID prevention and control measures. Guangdong reportedly spent a total of 146.8 billion yuan ($21.65 billion) to maintain epidemic control measures such as mass PCR testing and compulsory vaccination over the past three years.

“That said, they can’t plunder money from us vulnerable people,” said Lin, adding that retirees rely on insurance money for their daily medical bills.

“Who will pay for us in case of a major illness? In the past, even if we paid 484 yuan, we could only save 58,080 yuan ($12,061) over 10 years without spending a cent. N95 I can’t even afford to buy a face mask.”

The Epoch Times made multiple calls to the administration offices of the city’s Medical Safety and Human Resources and Social Security Administration on January 24, but received no response.

However, a man who answered a call to the Department of Human Resources and Social Security hotline refused to give his name and said that 320 yuan would be deducted from the local retiree’s monthly insurance premium and the money would go to individuals. I confirmed that it belongs to the account of However, he said the act was not illegal.

“It’s not a deduction. It’s just a reduction in monthly payments to personal accounts, authorized by government documents,” he said.

When asked if it was legal to withdraw from a personal account without the owner’s approval, the man replied: [government] Department in charge. ”

Zhao Fenghua and Hong Ning contributed to this report.