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As long as the backbone lives, there is hope in the family!


Greenish forests, ubiquitous slogans for poverty alleviation, and Yi people who can sing and dance……Welcome to Xide County in Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan Province. This is a national-focused agricultural poverty county located in the mountainous area and inhabited by the Yi people.

As long as she lives, there is hope in our family!

In September 2018, Gaowugesi(高伍格斯, pseudonym) who lives in the Great Liangshan in Xide County suddenly had a high fever up to 42°。On the same day, she was diagnosed with viral meningitis, falling into a coma. When her husband Diriniguo(的日尼裹, pseudonym) in Suzhou heard the news, he rushed back home to take care of his seriously ill wife. The coma of Gaowugesi, however, lasted for more than 3 months. By the end of last year, Gaowugesi finally awakened – but in need of others’ care from day to day.

Dirigiguo helps his wife to sit (photo by Yang Jia,

Gaowusige and her husband raised three children who are 7 years old, 4 years old and 2 years old respectively. Before the illness stroke her, she stayed at home to take care of the kids and the elders, while her husband worked in Suzhou to support the family. Since Dirigiguo came home to take care of her, the family has been out of any income resource for almost one year.

The unexpected illness cost them RMB 189,003 in total for hospitalization in the state and county hospitals. After the government’s reimbursement, there is still RMB 41,696 for them to pay. Also, with the additional transportations and living expenses, the family owns debts up to more than RMB 10,000.

At the beginning of this year, Diriniguo picked up a call from the village doctor and was told that a health insurance program could claim part of his wife’s payment. He quickly handed in the required materials to the government, and much to his surprise, he received RMB 18,900 within a week.

With the support from Backbone Project (Health Insurance for Poor Families’ Labors), Diriniguo was able to pay the urgent debt of RMB 10,000, saving the rest for emergency. With the care of Diriniguo, his wife is gradually getting better. Although still facing some difficulties, Diriniguo is quite positive towards the future: “When she recovers, I will go out for working. We can pay the debt one day after another. As long as she lives, there is hope in our family.”

Health Insurance Program with the help from Internet

In Liangshan Prefecture, there are a lot of poor families benefited from the Backbone Project. Since the Backbone Project landed in Xide County in 2018, by mid-August in 2019, the Backbone Project has claimed 445 people’s policies. The total amount accumulated to RMB 730,262, with RMB 1,641 averagely and up-most to RMB 21,053.

“The Backbone Project’s claim procedure is really fast, (the payment) goes into my card within a week.” Diriniguo said. The simplification and high-speed of claim procedure are the intuitive feeling of beneficiaries and county coordinators for Backbone Project. As a claimant in Guangming Town Health Center, Xide County, Qumuyuebumu(曲木约布木) has been responsible for the connection and claims since the project’s landing. “Compared to other medical reimbursement, the reimbursement procedure of Backbone Project is much simpler. Moreover, the medical expenses of private hospitals can also be reimbursed.”

The village doctor introducing the claim settlement to us (photo by Yang Jia,

The Backbone Project created a new health insurance model – “1 Alipay Account + 1 Coordinator” with simple and efficient procedure. Following these steps, one claimant can take on the responsibility for the whole village: searching “health insurance” on the front page in Alipay, clicking “claim”, and uploading the beneficiary’s material. If the material is considered to be qualified, the payment can be settled within 3-5 working days.

The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation also produced a short video to demonstrate the claim procedure in order to make sure that even claimants without higher education can quickly learn and get familiar with the procedure. The program manager, Jin Zinan says:” this health program aims to alleviate poverty with the help of technology. Let the village cadres run less errands, and let the data runs more.”

A short video to demonstrate the claim procedure of Backbone Project

By mid-August in 2019, there have been a total of 43,045 people who have received the claim funds from Backbone Project in the nation. The total amount of claims is RMB 83 million with RMB 1,929 averagely. With every claim reaching to the beneficiary smoothly and making a contribution to poor families, those who work for the Backbone Project feel more motivated.

About the Backbone Project

To respond the national call for poverty alleviation and mobilize social forces to participate in health poverty alleviation work, under the guidance of The State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development and National Health Commission of the PRC, CFPA, Alibaba Foundation, Alipay Welfare and Ant Financial Insurance jointly launched the Backbone Project in July 12, 2017. The project funds are mainly from Alibaba Foundation and Alipay Welfare. The project combines poverty alleviation with welfare insurance, providing exclusive poverty alleviation welfare insurance for registered poor households within the age from 18 to 60. By the mid-August in 2019, Backbone Project has launched in 86 counties in 12 provinces with the scale up to RMB 133 million, covering the insurance for 4.71 million registered poor households including 0.44 million people 8 counties in three regions and three prefectures. It is estimated that by 2020, the Backbone Project will provide health insurance for 10 million registered poor households.

Beneficiaries of Backbone Project