A part of the bailout terms that the Europeans imposed on
Greece required that the Greek
government terminate health care for anyone who has been unemployed for longer
than one year. The thinking, if one can
all it that, was apparently that anyone who is long term unemployed has plenty
of money to pay for their own health care.
The result, horror stories such as this one reported by the New York Times.
ATHENS — As the head of Greece’s largest oncology department, Dr. Kostas Syrigos thought he had seen everything. But nothing prepared him for Elena, an unemployed woman whose breast cancer had been diagnosed a year before she came to him.
By that time, her cancer had grown to the size of an orange and broken through the skin, leaving a wound that she was draining with paper napkins. “When we saw her we were speechless,” said Dr. Syrigos, the chief of oncology at
General Hospital in
“Everyone was crying. Things like that are described in textbooks, but you never
see them because until now, anybody who got sick in this country could always
get help.” Athens
Angelos Tzortzinis for The New York Times
So what happened? Here is the explanation.
Things changed in July 2011, when
signed a supplemental loan agreement with international lenders to ward off
financial collapse. Now, as stipulated in the deal, if people are unable
to foot the bill after their benefits expire, they are on their own, paying all
costs out of pocket. Greece
Now anyone with a modicum of common sense or shred of human decency would know that the last people who could afford to pay for their health care are those who have been unemployed for over a year. And of course the rest of the European policy has been to cause massive unemployment in
Greece, so the number of people
affected is just going to rise.
About half of Greece’s 1.2 million long-term unemployed lack health insurance, a number that is expected to rise sharply in a country with an unemployment rate of 25 percent and a moribund economy, said Savas Robolis, director of the Labor Institute of the General Confederation of Greek Workers. A new $17.5 billion austerity package of budget cuts and tax increases, agreed upon Wednesday with
international lenders, will make matters only worse, most economists say. Greece
The results of all of this are nicely summed up by one physician.
right now, to be unemployed means death,” said Dr. Syrigos, an imposing man
with a stern demeanor that grew soft when discussing the plight of cancer
And while Mitt Romney might approve of the sentiment that in this instance Europe is moving more towards the
The development is new for Greeks — and perhaps for
too. “We are moving to the same situation that the has been in, where
when you lose your job and you are uninsured, you aren’t covered,” Dr. Syrigos
said. United States
The rest of us are rightly horrified.
And who is causing this? It is European leaders, safely ensconced in their high paying government jobs with their high quality, fully paid for by government health care. Sort of like politicians in this country who also want to deny health care to the poor, the sick, the unemployed, the elderly and the unemployed but demand government paid health care for themselves.