Monday, October 11, 2010

Future under Obamacare: When amputation becomes cheaper

It’s not in the United States.  Yet. It’s Greece.

image This Saturday, one of Greece’s most respected newspapers, To Vima, reported that the nation’s largest government health insurance provider would no longer pay for special footwear for diabetes patients.  Amputation is cheaper, says the Benefits Division of the state insurance provider.

The new policy was announced in a letter to the Pan-Hellenic Federation of People with Diabetes. The Federation disputes the science behind the decision of the Benefits Division. In a statement, the group argues that the decision is contrary to evidence as presented in the international scientific literature.

Greece’s National Healthcare System was created in the early 1980s, during the tenure of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. Papandreou, an academic, won election under the slogan, Αλλαγή, which is the Greek word for Change.

Three decades of progressive-socialist policies in Greece—and it’s come to this.  If you have diabetes and need special orthopedic footwear, you’re soon to be out of luck and may lose your feet.

Naturally, the Federation of People with Diabetes is horrified and disputes the results of the study.

It may not be coming to a hack’em and pack’em clinic near you next year.  Or, 2014.  But a system of rationing care—and Obamacare is indeed a rationing system—will start making similar cost-benefit decisions sooner or later.

Unless its repealed and replaced with a real, market-based solution that forces consumers and providers to make economic decisions based on budget constraints under conditions of competition.