Survival of the richest

News leaked earlier this week that among the measures being proposed by the government in its bid to slash 11.5 billion euros from the state budget over the next two years, is one for a 1,500-euro ceiling on per capita, per annum healthcare spending. This measure is either intended to impress the country?s creditors or shows a government that is losing its marbles out of desperation. What it certainly shows us is that Greece is dying.

The sum of 1,500 euros was probably arrived at as an arbitrary average in the usual number-crunching style of Greek ministers and the troika?s technocrats. The breakdown of the sum was presented as follows: It covers 12 monthly visits to a doctor to have prescriptions filled, two checkups a year and a hospital stay of about four days. If a patient requires more than this, he or she will have to pay 10 euros per additional doctor visit and 15 percent of hospital fees for every day beyond the four provided.

Statistically, the per capita expenditure of 1,500 euros on healthcare per year may make perfect sense, though it does appear to presuppose that the person in mind is perfectly healthy and will not have the misfortune of suffering either injury or illness. But are all people healthy and guaranteed to remain that way? Do they have some kind of contract with fate? And what about people who suffer from chronic illnesses and need costly treatments? What happens if someone needs emergency surgery or has a serious accident and simply cannot afford to pay for expensive procedures and medicines?

It?s impossible to fathom what the people who thought up this ludicrous scheme were thinking. Sure, they were looking for ways to curb unnecessary healthcare spending, but there must have been a better way to achieve this than literally condemning to death people who are not healthy or who are too poor to get sick.

The ceiling on healthcare spending effectively abolishes the welfare state. What it does not do is contribute in any way to cleansing the state of wasteful practices and corruption, nor does it help squeeze out the profiteers and crooks from the healthcare system. It runs against the concept of equality by knocking down the right to life and medical care. The only survivors of this policy will be those who have money, and life will no longer be an inalienable right but a state of finance. We will have a failed state indeed.

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