Economic hardship – chronic sickness: one of the real plaques that hit thousands of Greek households suffering from income cuts, tax hikes, cuts in health care and welfare and increase in health care participation.
According to a nationwide survey, one in four Greeks suffering from chronic illness have to cut on food, electricity and heating in order to save money and secure medication.
The survey “Hellas Health 5” conducted in January 2013 by the Research Center for Health Services of the Medical School of Athens in collaboration with the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine.
56.7% of the respondents said that “paying for medication builds a serious problem for them”
52.3% declared they were very much concerned as to whether they would be cover the expenses of the medication in the next two years
25% said they have cut expenditure in food, electricity and heating in order to come up for the medication cost.
39.9% blamed the economic crisis as the main obstacle to vaccination.
14.9% of parents blamed the purchase prices for the vaccination
7.6% of parents said they had “not insurance anymore” and “the family had no access to public health services”.
The survey results were presented to the media by professor Yiannis Toundas who also announced the formation of a new volunteers’ network program that will offer medical services to those in need.
Speaking about the Health Allies, Toundas said that “main purpose of the program is to meet the increasing needs for medical and psychological care, as the economic crisis excludes many people from access to public health services or welfare and therefore are not able to cover the financial participation needed”.
Since September 2012, chronic-ill Greeks are obliged to pay at least 25% participation to purchase medication even if they are insured. These can burden a household with at least 50 euro per month for a cocktail of medication essential for keeping them alive. Given the cuts in welfare benefits, allowances, wages and pensions of the last four years, 50 euro can be a …hell in the monthly family budget.
With unemployed being more than 1.3 million people, access to public health services has become a real luxury especially for long-term jobless. A blood test? An X-ray? Broader tests? Many cannot afford as they cannot afford a visit to a specialist even in a public hospital with waiting lists of average six weeks or even a couple of months.
But here is to mention, the increase of volunteering doctors setting up networks offering free health services to the needy.
And this against all IMF-odds as every ‘bailout & rescue”austerity program primarily cuts health services to a minimum possible in every country.