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Old 07-10-2001, 05:54 PM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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I heard a variation of this story recently:

In ancient China, the ideal doctor was the one who was able to teach a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent diseases. Doctors got paid when they were successful (in keeping their patrons healthy) - not when the patients got sick (which was considered a sign of failure!)

I've poked around a bit and found several mentions of this ancient Chinese fee structure -- pay the doctor when you're well, stop paying when you're sick until you get better.

Is there any truth to this story, or is it just a popular way to sell acupuncture and herbalist remedies?
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Old 07-13-2001, 04:23 PM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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I'm going to try bringing this back into the current topics of discussion.

Is this how health care worked in ancient China? For how long? Was it successful?
Old 07-13-2001, 05:00 PM
China Girl China Girl is offline
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Based on my shallow knowledge, I have never heard such a story even though I am from China. In ancient China, some doctors travel around to cure poor people because they are poor. Once their names being recognized by most people, they may be hired by royal families become royal doctors. There might be some health specialists working for rich families to keep track of their diets and health plans, such as arrange diets and set up excercise routines, pretty much like a personal trainer. In that case a "personal trainer" could be fired any time, but you still have to go to the doctors if you need it.
Old 07-13-2001, 05:17 PM
k.os k.os is offline
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I have no cite on this, but I have been told that "ancient chinese doctors" were paid once a year by their "patients". For the fee, the doctor would make sure you remained in good health for the whole year and make visits to your home when you'd get sick. So, if a doctor was successful, he wouldn't have to make many "housecalls" and then have more time to care for more patients (meaning more pay) whereas a doctor with many sick patients would be very busy and not have time to see many patients. As for the source, I want to say "The turning point" by Fritjof Capra, but I read it years ago so I could be wrong...
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Old 07-13-2001, 06:11 PM
phartizan phartizan is offline
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I heard the same thing about Chinese firemen. I doubt both.
Old 07-13-2001, 08:06 PM
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whitetho whitetho is online now
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I can't verify whether the statement about Chinese physicians is true or not, but the story has been repeated in the United States for at least 89 years. I have a 1924 reprint of a book first published in 1912, Bert Wilson, Wireless Operator, by J. W. Duffield, and it includes the following:
"They have another queer custom in China that bears right on the doctor's profession," he said, with a sly twinkle in his eye. "Here they employ a doctor by the year, but they only pay him as long as the employer keeps well. The minute he gets sick, the doctor's salary ceases, and he has to work like sixty to get him well in a hurry, so that his pay may be resumed."
"Well," retorted the doctor, "I don't know but they have the better of us there. It is certainly an incentive to get the patient well at once, instead of spinning out the case for the sake of a bigger fee. I know a lot of fashionable doctors whose income would go down amazingly if that system were introduced in America.
Although this book is fiction, overall it seems to be accurate in its various accounts.
Old 07-13-2001, 08:16 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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I also heard of this practice but it was in the late 19th or early 20th century. I think it was mentioned on a PBS program, but I can't find a cite.
Same for teachers, IIRC.
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Old 07-16-2001, 01:55 AM
Interrobang!? Interrobang!? is offline
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Someone I talked to this weekend told me that she'd heard that this was a custom among the Hmong. At least that might narrow down necessary research . . .


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