Focusing on tuberculosis control in Yunnan Province, China, Dirlikov contrasts the state’s goal to provide free diagnosis and treatment with patients’ lived experiences in diagnosing tuberculosis. In interviews, patients framed the problem of tuberculosis as a primarily economic concern, despite the availability of government programmes aimed at providing services at little or no cost. Dirlikov explores this paradox through what he terms ‘the price of free,’ the tension that emerges between the state’s aspirations (i.e., ‘the free’) with the expenditures patients incur (i.e., ‘the price’). The multitude of areas that lead to additional expenditures can promote delays in diagnosis and treatment and are thus important for policy debates on the broader control of the disease and programmatic costing. Dirlikov further argues against a straightforward critique of the government’s programmes for what they fail to do, as expressed by patients, and encourages future medical anthropological work on tuberculosis to account for larger epidemiological and economic factors in contextualizing patient experience.