Back in January, when a young northeast Chinese woman became an online sensation for her furious 90-second rant at thugs stealing waiting tickets for resale in a Beijing hospital, the media and law enforcement came down hard on the scammers. But the state-run Beijing Daily reported that the illegal business has started to thrive again because the authorities let down their guard in the wake of the Chinese holiday season.
A reporter with Beijing Daily went to the Beijing Obstetric Gynecology Hospital and spoke with one of the illicit ticket resellers. He charges 300 yuan (about $45) for a ticket. Others bargain with genuine customers in full view of the security guards, who stand with blank faces and do nothing.
“It’s hopeless to wait in line by yourself,” the seller said. He claims to have done this sort of work for five years.
One couple had gotten to the hospital at dawn, but found that once the doors had opened, the tickets disappeared after just a few people. They ended up paying 300 yuan for the ticket plus the same price for “special service” provided by the reseller.
“I have no idea where all the tickets went,” said the husband. “The medical workers and ticket sellers both demand bribery now.”
Worse, doctors and other hospital staff collude with the ticket sellers to offer the tickets to returning patients, making it difficult for new patients to receive care.
The process of becoming an “old patient” is a scam in itself: the best way is to get a ticket for outpatient consultation. Once one gets over this expensive hurdle, other types of tickets are relatively easier to procure.
One elderly man spent three days waiting in line for treatment at a hospital attached to Peking University.
Ticket sellers divide their labor between bosses and hired henchmen, who get into line several at a time. A waiting ticket for a well-regarded doctor can become worth hundreds of dollars.