Helliniko 21 August 2013
Ministry of Health Voucher Program: Of What Value?
The unemployment rate is 28% and the workforce of the country is just 4 out of 10 Greeks. At this moment, the Ministry of Health springs on us a voucher program for health. This is an attempt to impress the public and cloud the picture of the true tragic situation of the hundreds of thousands of uninsured citizens.
The new program, as announced, is a drop in the ocean. It will serve 100,000 uninsured. According to press reports, the true level of uninsured is more than 3.5 million (including previously insured shop owners and free-lancers who have closed their shops and businesses together with their dependents).
We believe this new program, which is expected to last only two years, is glaringly inadequate for the following reasons.
1. It doesn’t cover all the uninsured. And it has limits and ceilings, according to region, on doctor’s visits (three visits to take place within four months).
2. It doesn’t cover secondary health care, i.e. hospitalization or specific treatment protocols
3. Pharmaceutical treatment and medication is not even mentioned.
4. It does not specify if this plan covers all the instances of tests and treatment that a patient may need.
We believe that there are multiple questions that the Ministry of Health must make clear.
- What will happen to the uninsured-indigent-unemployed cancer patient who needs chemotherapy?
- What will happen to the uninsured-indigent-unemployed pregnant woman who must have prenatal tests and a place of safe delivery?
- What will happen to the children with serious illnesses who require hospital treatment whose parents have no insurance cover and cannot afford to pay for hospitalization? And what about the medications they might need?
The famous voucher program that we have waited for so long says absolutely nothing about these situations.
Mr. Minister, you must give a solution to our fellow citizens whose lives are in immediate danger because they do not have free access to the public health system.
We believe it is important to mention that this particular “initiative” of the Ministry of health refers to the revised memorandum of July 2013. In the 234 pages of this memorandum (which you can read here: http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/publications/occasional_paper/2013/pdf/ocp159_en.pdf ) fewer than 3 pages (33-35) are devoted to the health sector in
. Specifically, on page 35 in one paragraph, it
states that this program will last two years and has a budget of 46 million Euro. Greece
After five years of crisis and three years of economic memoranda we continue to ignore human need in favour of a tidy balance sheet. The humanitarian crises that we are experiencing will have tragic repercussions on us all. Think about it. More than 5.1 million of our fellow citizens (just under half the population) live under the poverty level. There are 1.4 million officially unemployed.
The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Helliniko has been pleading with the government for more than a year and a half. We want to government to deeply reflect on the sinister consequences of their policies for poor citizens. The constitution of the country has been blatantly violated; human rights have been disregarded. The recent resolutions regarding public health advocated by the European Council – especially for the countries hard hit by the economic crisis, are our guides. (read here: http://mkie-foreign.blogspot.gr/2013/07/blog-post.html )
After all the misery sustained by the people, even now, instead a public health system that is universal, the Ministry of Health is hastily adopting another frustrating bureaucratic plan that still leaves out most uninsured patients. By referring to funds from ESPA (The National Strategic Reference Framework) and misinformation to the public, the Ministry of Health is hoping to impress us with an aspirin, when a much more radical cure is needed.
We remain firmly committed to the fight to open the public health system to all without exception.