Many people in Venezuela can no longer go to the doctor of their choice according to an Associated Press story. Half of the nation’s doctors have quit and half of those moved to other nations. The reason is government control over the health care system has devastated it by imposing rates for services and procedures to make it more affordable. Sound familiar?
“For example, dialysis treatment was set at 200 bolivars ($30 at the official exchange rate and less than $4 on the black market) for a procedure that costs 5,000 bolivars to administer.” In effect, hospitals are losing money because of government imposed price controls.
To compensate for the decline in hospital care, the government has built up a system of walk-in clinics manned by foreign Cuban doctors. They are able to handle minor problems but cannot take care of the seriously ill. “Doctors not allied with the government say many patients began dying from easily treatable illnesses…. Doctors say it is impossible to know how many have died, and the government doesn’t keep such numbers, just as it hasn’t published health statistics since 2010.”
Adding to the misery is the flight of support staff such as nurses, technicians, etc. Government mismanagement of the economy has created such high inflation that support staff wages are shrinking in value. Wages are another aspect of government control.
The very people who were to be the beneficiaries of the free universal health care system are the ones who are suffering the most. Evelina Gonzalez adored Hugo Chavez’s anti-poverty program and the idea of a free universal health care system. She always voted for him and constantly applied for government benefits, though she never received any. She was supposed to undergo cancer surgery in July following chemotherapy but is on “a list of 31 breast cancer patients waiting to have tumors removed at one of Venezuela’s biggest medical facilities, Maracay’s Central Hospital. But like legions of the sick across the country, she’s been neglected by a health care system doctors say is collapsing after years of deterioration.”
Venezuela is a warning about ObamaCare for the United States. Already many of our senior doctors are retiring while about 60 to 70 percent of the remaining doctors are NOT taking on new patients especially Medicaid patients because the reimbursement is too low. Enrollments in medical schools are down. Insurance companies are dropping many doctors from their networks. Hospitals are cutting back on staffs to save costs. It is already changing our health care system.
One other warning, the ObamaCare regulations consider a hospital to be subpar if a patient release by a hospital returns for treatment within 30 days. This puts hospitals into a catch 22 situation. A patient may have to return to a hospital within 30 days or die. The hospital may not be compensated if a patient returns within that limit. Does a hospital look at its bottom line and make a cost saving decision or a life saving decision?
Are we becoming Venezuela?