Health spending limit prompts ire

A proposal for a 1,500-euro ceiling on the amount that social security funds can spend for the healthcare of each Greek every year has drawn stinging criticism from associations representing patients.

The suggestion for a limit to be placed on what is spent by the funds was included in the cost-cutting plan drawn up by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE), which the government has used as its blueprint for setting out the 11.5 billion euros in cuts that it has to make over the next two years to satisfy Greece?s creditors.

Health Ministry sources have denied that this option is being considered but the plan for the cuts has not been made public, fueling speculation that some form of spending limit could be introduced. Currently, social security funds cover the full cost, or at least heavily subsidize, medical treatment and drugs. Kathimerini understands that under the plan, anyone exceeding their limit would have to pay 10 euros per visit to a doctor and 15 percent of their daily treatment if they are hospitalized.

A doctor at a public hospital pointed out to Kathimerini that an appendectomy costs 1,400 euros, which means that should a patient use his or her social insurance to cover the operation, they would only be left with another 100 euros of cover for the rest of the year.

The National Association of Kidney Patients blasted the idea of introducing a spending limit for patients. ?If a ceiling of 1,500 euros is set, this would only cover a very brief period of treatment and course of medicines,? the association said. ?This simply means that when someone does not have the funds, or has spent all their money or has sold all their property, they will be left to die.?

On Monday, the coalition government is set to finalize a range of drastic spending cuts aimed at meeting the targets set by the troika.

Apart from possible reductions in healthcare spending, Kathimerini understands that civil servants could lose their 13th and 14th monthly salaries, which had been drastically cut over the last two years. Retirees receiving 14 monthly supplementary pension payments will also lose two installments. University students who have exceeded their stay at institutions will have to pay 300 euros per year, while the Church of Greece will cover half of the cost of its clerics salaries, currently paid from public coffers.

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