OPINION

Curbing waste of state money

Sales of medicines this year rose by 4 percent while spending on drugs skyrocketed by 9 to 11 percent. The discrepancy shows that someone is playing games at the expense of the troubled social security funds and the National Health System (ESY). Billions of euros are wasted because of the structural defects of Greece’s health and insurance system. The beneficiaries are a group of drug firms and some doctors who are straining our health and insurance funds by prescribing pricey, useless and, in some cases harmful, medicines. The introduction of the list of prescribed drugs was an attempt to curb illicit profiteering. Unfortunately, the government gave up on the plan too soon because of some initial problems and before long-term benefits could be seen. Given that the simmering crisis of the social security funds will threaten Greece’s social cohesion, the government must hammer out a strategy to stop the hemorrhaging of the funds. The threat of bankruptcy does not just come from the large number of early retirements and the pressure from demographic trends, but also from the unchecked waste of funds, also on drugs. The government must take action to stop the squandering of money from the state coffers. It must introduce an electronic cross-checking of doctors’ prescriptions and monitor the money spent on every single drug. It is unacceptable that Greece’s social security funds still use record cards and calculators in the 21st century. The country cannot tread into the future without having first solved its social security problem.