We have a very unusual public health system here in Ireland.
I would go so far as to say it is probably unique in the world.
The way it works is this – we pay nearly fifteen billion into an organisation and get nothing in return. That fifteen billion presumably doesn’t even cover salaries, as they come out of a different budget, but who cares? No one seems to know where this fifteen billion goes to, though a fair proportion seems to go into building hospitals which then remain closed because they can’t afford to run them?
Incidentally, please remember that Ireland has a population roughly equal to that of Los Angeles, Melbourne or about half the size of London. We ain’t very big.
I would wager a fair proportion of the money goes into the pockets of ‘expert consultants’ who are hired to find out why the system costs so much.
If you fall ill in Ireland, or have an accident, you are fucked.
First of all, they have to find a hospital that is open. If they manage to find one, you are brought there and placed on a trolley in the corridor where you are left to fester for a few days. At the end of that time, you are brought to a ward where there is more than a high chance you will catch MRSA, or some other deadly ailment known only to Irish hospitals. After giving you a lung transplant [when you only went in with a broken leg, which by now has fallen off anyway] you are packed off home to die. Most people just wish they had died first – it’s quicker and less painful.
The upshot of all this is that those of us who value our health [and sanity] try to take out private health insurance.
Health insurance in Ireland is not cheap. It requires a fair percentage of income, but it is the only way of ensuring that you have a good chance of survival.
Unfortunately, this all means we are now at the mercy of the health insurance companies.
I am with the largest one – the V.H.I. I am with them for the simple reason that I get a discount by being insured through my old employer [whom I no longer work for, but one has to fiddle the system somehow?].
They are now bitching because people are starting to cancel their premiums. Presumably, if you are unemployed, life becomes a luxury you can’t afford? I would have thought this was a good thing for the V.H.I., as fewer customers means fewer claims and less overheads. They could afford to reduce premiums to attract people back? That would be the logical thing to do, as any accountant will tell you.
But this is Ireland.
The V.H.I. are putting their premiums up.
In Ireland, when we talk about the cost of living, we mean precisely that.
It’s the cost of not dying.