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Health S.O.S – Greece Kills the Chronic-Ill, Alzheimer’s and Kidney Patients

Health in Greece is sick. As sick as the brains of those who take such decisions and force thousands of people to painful death as they deprive them of life-saving medicine. Call it ‘Third Austerity Package’, call it ‘a country in bankruptcy’, call it however you want, fact is: the well paid ministers of this government together with well-paid MPs and other state officials who earn several thousands euro per month, they will let the needy and the sick without essential medication and basic health care.

Last week deputy minister of ‘health’  Salmas and minister of labour Vroutsis decided independently from the ‘austerity package’ to impose a 10%-25% participation in prescription medicine purchase for the chronic-ill of following categories: kidney insufficiency, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, dementia, vascular BURGER, Charcot disease, PARKINSON, several types of Diabetes, Wilson disease and other chronic illnesses (Full List Here, in Greek).

Zero percent contribution will be paid by cancer, HIV and other chronic diseases, however only for drugs directly related to their diseases.

The patients will have to pay 10% contribution for drugs directly related to their disease and 25% for drugs not directly related and regardless of whether the accompanying diseases like heart problems, diabetes, hypertension are caused because of the primary disease.

Now who will decide whether the kidney failure is related to diabetes or vice versa is not clear and whether the drugs for Alzheimer’s will cost 10% contribution but the vascular medication will need 25% own payment?

Without any exemptions for low-incomes, the chronic- ill patients of the above mentioned categories, some of them who need medication worth several hundreds euro every month will have to pay even more than 100 euro out of their own pockets.  Even if their pension is no more than 500-600 euro.

Kidney Patients

For example a kidney patient on hemodialysis needs medicine of some 500 euro per month. If s/he has to pay a contribution and has a low-income, the patient and his family will face a dilemma: either buy medicine or let him starve. and thus in times, where the majority of the average households have one member with income and work.

Only terminally ill kidney patients on dialysis will be exempted from the contribution.

“This is unacceptable, because kidney patients undergoing dialysis have many other serious health problems, including cardiovascular, blood sugar, hypertension, etc,” says Gregory Leontopoulos, general secretary of the Panhellenic Federation of Kidney Patients.

As mentioned, one patient undergoing hemodialysis may need more than 500 euros a month to buy drugs, depending on their health condition. “Not everyone has the ability to pay such large sums of money each month to deal with serious health problems,” he said and warned: “If we do not change the decision, we will  will mourn victims.”

 Alheimer’s Patients

The news about the insured patients participation in the medicine purchase has spread the horror among groups of chronic ill, especially those who are bound to 240hour care like the dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. President of the Greek Alzheimter’s Association Magda Tsolaki, wrote a dramatic appeal to the Minister of Health stressing the necessity that these patients are exempted from the participation.

Below some excerpts from the letter:

“Alzheimer’s patients are mostly elderly and retired. Although they are confirmed to be 100% disabled they do not receive any social welfare benefits or allowances. 

The average monthly income of such patients does not exceed 785 euro, while the minimum pensions from OGA and IKA are not more than 350 euro and 470 euro per month respectively. 400,000 retirees receiving a pension between € 600 and € 1.000 per month.

The generative chronic disease that causes the progressive decline of the memory and all associated functions like bathing, eating, dressing while is accompanied with significant behavioral changes.

Underlining the costly economic impact for the patients and their families, Tsolaki requests the exemption form the participation saying that without available resources, the patients would be deprived of medicine with the effect of a quicker deterioration of their health situation and an escalation of the behavioral disturbances that will force families and care takers to send such patients into state institutions and more costs for the Greek health care system.”

Fanciful Tricks to Cut Health Care

The tricks applied by those responsible to cut health care for chronic-ill have no limits.  They cut physiotherapy for patients with multiple sclerosis,  TBI, peripheral neuropathy, diseases of the Central Nervous System,

if the patient has already been treated in rehabilitation clinic or hospital rehabilitaion centre or any rehabilitation program. At the same time, the insured patient will have to take advantage of the physiotherapy within 3 months after ordered by the doctor.

 Hospitalization only with 25 euro admission fee!

The new austerity package foresees cuts of 1.1 billion euro in the Greek medical and prescription medicine, but also cuts in doctors’ salaries in order to finance the national health care organization EOPYY, the newly established scandalous organisation that unified the insurance funds and went broke before completing two years of life.

With the new austerity package, insured patients will have to pay 25 euro to be admitted to hospital for surgery or medical checks and will pay 1 euro per prescription as of 1.1.2014.

If they’re still alive….

Greece needs Euthanasia Law?

Minister Vroutsis? Minister Salmas? Who are these ministers, the politics-passersby? Who voted for them? How many votes did they receive in June elections that authorize them to rule over the destiny of thousands of sick and needy?

A friend was telling me about the continuously rising costs she has to pay for her two sick parents, both over 80. A doctor has to be called in at least once a month (60-80 euro). Every two months one of the parents has to undergo blood tests (80 euro). Cost of diapers ((50 euro). Contribution for prescription medicine (at least 20 euro). With the new regulation, she will have to pay additional 40-70 euro for prescription drugs. To the medicine costs she needs to spend some 150-200 euro per month to buy for them food and pay utilities. One of the pensions of the aging and sick couple goes for a caretaker (400 euro). Τhe friend also comes up to their taxes and emergency property taxes as they live in a 70 qm home.

The friend lost her job two years ago, she uses her savings to support her parents. On their side, they lost an annual income of  4,320 euro after the Christmas/Eastern bonuses were cut into half, when the social welfare allowance was deleted with one click and they have to pay contributions of 30 euro/month each to EOPYY. With they new austerity package they will lose at least another 1,200 euro per year as the rest of the Chistmas bonuses will desappear. The IKA pensioners get together 1,090 euro.

Maybe Salmas, Vroutsis & Co should consider to pass also an euthanasia law as the chronic-ill and their families will be unable to carry the additional financial burden.

Further reading: Contributions to prescription medicine news sources also in Greek ygeia360, megatv

 German stop shipment of life saving cancer drug to Greece and Drugmakers offer to cap Greece’s medicines bill

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5 comments

  1. Eugenics as a remedy to get Greece out of this crisis? XA will be over the moon that it’s ideas are now put into practice by the mainstream parties…

  2. So, getting that out of my system I want to compliment you on this piece, KTG. Very enlightening and thorough. And very, very dramatic indeed. The consequences are indeed live or death. Live for the haves and death for the have nots. Most people don’t die of there primary disease but of the complications consisting of the secondary diseases.
    As always in Greek politics and state, there is either no plan and they are flying by the seat of their pants or there is and some vested interests will make a nice packet out of this.
    Ofcourse there is wastage in medicine use and prescription. And yes, all kinds of medicine that is regularly prescribed has either no effect for what it is prescribed for or just is plain silly to have it paid for by an insurance. In the useless category penicillin for a common cold or flue springs to mind. For the second category things like paracetamol or antacid tablets in most cases. And more and better organized countries than Greece are struggling with this for years now.
    And not only with frivolous diseases. In my other country there is still a big discussion about the use of really enormous expensive medicines for some very rare diseases. Where do you draw the line? Or should every 85 year old still be able to get a full hip or knee replacement or should some disability be accepted as a natural thing above a certain age? Difficult discussions. And even more difficult when cutbacks are involved.
    But here they let the people pay more and more for less and less. There is simply no excuse why health insurance premiums in Greece are double from the once in my other country and there I get all the medicines I need covered. It’s just unacceptable.
    One last point about your remark about euthanasia. Although I sympathize with the emotions that probably brought you to make it. Heck, I mentioned eugenics in my first reply! I still have to object to that. In my other country there is now a decades long experience with the right to die humanely when one chooses so. Most of the time to avoid unnecessarily suffering. All kinds of safeguards are in place to avoid outside pressures like money factors or family who just want to get rid of somebody. Or even that the patient doesn’t want to be a burden on his family. All those things are not valid reasons to get help in dying humanely. And that is what you were revering to here and has nothing to do with euthanasia. That’s murder, suicide or even worse…

  3. The euthanasia was ironically meant because these idiots have no idea how real life looks like. So if they think, their ‘radical cuts’ are a solution, they should go to the end.
    Furthermore, they chew again & again the ‘over-prescription’ issue to get rid of their own responsibilities for having letting it happen for many decades, having docs & politicians earning their bribes ‘legally’ form the health sector. We hear about the defence-bribes but never about those in the health. Their propaganda is to distract from the real scandals and blame the doctors (not that many are free of guilt).
    Why don’t they ever dig in the health sector scandals?
    BTW: anti-flu and many other drugs are not on prescription anymore since last year.
    PS thanks 🙂

  4. giaoýrti giaoyrtáki

    I guess some EU-politicians and Troikans have fallen in love with some nice houses close to the beach but unfortunately the prices are still too high for them and then they found out that some old “Gastarbeiter” live in it and die too slow.