Some tragedies lurked around on what should have otherwise
been a wonderful family day today, but one tries to put on the best face
possible, even when important people were missing from our family celebration.
Health care took the top of the headlines today in El
Nacional, as we learned that the Government pays more than 50% of what the
Ministry of Health spends overall on paying private health insurance for its
workers. This has reached these proportions after Government hospitals have
deteriorated in the last few years. The new Health care Bill will effectively
bar this for Government workers, making them pay for it and will force private
workers to pay 20% of their healthcare, while employers pay 80%.
Then, in El Universal, there
is an interview with Marino Gonzalez, whom I have translated here often.
Marino points out how the Chavez Government seems to be going towards a model
in which workers pay for their own healthcare, exactly the opposite of the
trends elsewhere, which he finds ironic, given the social claims of the
Government. Essentially, Gonzalez points out that if you make the workers pay
for their own healthcare policies for surgery, hospitalization and maternity,
then they will ask for private healthcare which essentially formalizes the
privatization of healthcare that has been going on in the last few years under
Gonzalez also blasts the centralization of healthcare that
Chavez is promoting and then proceeds to give incredible bad numbers about the
state of health care in Venezuela. Besides the case of measles that we posted
on earlier, he notes that malaria and dengue fever have increased by 30% in the
last year, how maternal mortality has increased by 20% since 1998 and how 20
kids per day die due to either diarrhea or birth problems. Mind you, these are
officials numbers if anyone wants to question their reality and Gonzalez is a
medical doctor with a Ph.D. in public policy.
Separately, that same issue of El Universal notes
that while the Government wants to regulate the price of private health care,
the cost of having a bed at a Government hospital is three times that of
private hospitals, demonstrating how inefficient Government spending can be.
Meanwhile, Barrio Adentro IV, for which Cuba received last year US$ 1.3
billion, has yet to be launched and construction
in many states of new modules is not moving rapidly. Moreover, the School
of Medical Doctors claims that 49% of the Barrio Adentro Modules are not
The solution is not to centralize healthcare and least of
all to eliminate insurance in the public sector. The solution is to start
strengthening the network of hospitals and clinics the Government has, which
have been totally neglected since Chavez took over as he gave priority to the
emergency care of Barrio Adentro. Any regulation of private healthcare will
simply reduce the availability of the current system, much like price controls
have made certain goods scarce in the countryís supermarkets.