As Greece’s private sector dies, so does government-provided health care

From Reuters. (H/T ECM)


Greece’s rundown state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical materials for exhausted doctors as a combination of economic crisis and political stalemate strangle health funding.

With Greece now in its fifth year of deep recession, trapped under Europe’s biggest public debt burden and dependent on international help to keep paying its bills, the effects are starting to bite deeply into vital services.

[…]Greece, a member of the euro zone that groups some of the richest nations on earth, has descended so far that drugmakers are even working on emergency plans to keep medicines flowing into the country should it crash out of the currency bloc.

The emergency has grown out of a tangle of unpaid bills, with pharmacists and doctors complaining of being unable to pay suppliers until competing health insurers clear a growing backlog of unfilled state payments.

[…]Greeks have long had to give medical staff cash “gifts” to ensure good treatment. Nevertheless the health system was considered “relatively efficient” before the crisis despite a variety of problems including a fragmented organization and excess bureaucracy, according to a 2009 report for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

But it has been unable to respond to the growing crisis. The European Union and International Monetary Fund, which provided a 130 billion euro lifeline to Greece in March, have demanded big cuts to the system as part of a wider package of austerity measures.

But powerful medical lobbies and unions have resisted fiercely. Caretaker Prime Minister Panagiotis Pikrammenos, in office until a new government is formed after the elections, has pleaded for a solution but been powerless to force a change.

What’s the lesson here? The lesson is that government programs have no money of their own – they don’t make anything or do anything that people want of their own free will. Only private companies do that because they have to compete with other sellers to please the customer. Government is a parasite on the private sector – everything they do is funded from taxes taken from workers and employers. When the economy goes bad, it’s not just private sector jobs that are lost, it’s public sector health care programs. That’s why no one should want government to go beyond the minimal functions set out in the Constitution.

UPDATE: On Sunday, Greece voted to reject Obamanomics and to live within their means.

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