Originally published November 12 2013
Venezuela's socialist healthcare system now in state of collapse
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) If you want to see where the American healthcare system is headed under the Marxist Obama, cast your eyes to South America.
At one time, Venezuela's healthcare system was fully functional and more than able to meet the needs of the country. But thanks to heavy-handed, top-down authoritarianism of the late President Hugo Chavez and his successor, the system there has all but collapsed.
As reported by The Associated Press:
Evelina Gonzalez was supposed to undergo cancer surgery in July following chemotherapy but wound up shuttling from hospital to hospital in search of an available operating table. On the crest of her left breast, a mocha-colored tumor doubled in size and now bulges through her white spandex tank top.
Gonzalez 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 healthcare system doctors say is collapsing after years of deterioration.
You wanted government-run healthcare, you got it
According to the report, some 300 cancer patients have been sent home in the past month because of chronic supply shortages and overused equipment, making it impossible to perform any non-emergency surgeries.
The culprit? Central government mismanagement. Sound familiar?
Economists throughout the country and elsewhere say that is the cause of much angst around the country, and the reason why Venezuelans are "scrambling to find toilet paper, milk and automobile parts."
Government-centric regulations and currency controls - two favored tools of the Marxist - put in place by Chavez have created the nightmare unfolding all across the country. They are responsible for shortages and inefficiencies, as well as a 50 percent-per-year inflation rate.
Doctors at the hospital sent home 300 cancer patients last month when supply shortages and overtaxed equipment made it impossible for them to perform non-emergency surgeries.
As for the healthcare industry in particular, AP reports: "The government controls the dollars needed to buy medical supplies and has simply not made enough available."
"I feel like I've been abandoned," said Gonzalez, 37, to a hospital psychologist trying to boost her morale. In addition to her tumor, she also has a swollen right eye afflicted by glaucoma that was diagnosed two years ago but never treated, because she couldn't get an appointment.
But here's the most disgusting part: Doctors not allied with the central government say patients began to die from easily treatable conditions and illnesses when the country's economic slide quickened following the death of Chavez - ironically, from cancer - in March. The doctors say that they just don't know how many have died - that it's impossible to tell - because, of course, the government hasn't published health statistics since 2010.
Everything is in short supply: needles and syringes, paraffin used for biopsies in cancer diagnoses, drugs, operating room equipment, X-ray film, imaging paper, blood. You name it.
It's getting worse. Critical, even. Per AP:
Last month, the government suspended organ donations and transplants. At least 70 percent of radiotherapy machines, precisely what Gonzalez will need once her tumor is removed, are now inoperable in a country with 19,000 cancer patients - meaning fewer than 5,000 can be treated, said Dr. Douglas Natera, president of the Venezuelan Medical Federation.
Government-run insurance plans short-change doctors, hospitals
"Two months ago we asked the government to declare an emergency," Natera, whose doctors group is the country's largest, told the newswire service. "We got no response."
In 1999, the country passed a constitution guaranteeing free universal healthcare to all Venezuelans. The country with the world's largest proven oil reserves, however, didn't anticipate Marxists destroying their economy.
It got worse in July. New price caps for common medical procedures were set that are simply impossible to meet. Dialysis treatment, for example, was set at 200 bolivars (or about $30 at the official exchange rate, or less than $4 on the black market). The procedure, however, costs 5,000 bolivars to administer.
The U.S. has an equivalent system: Medicare and Medicaid (and now Obamacare). Government bureaucrats decide all day long what they will and will not pay for. Much of the time, these two government-run health insurance programs simply do not pay the full amount charged by hospitals - an amount necessary, in most cases, just to break even.
Welcome to Venezuelan - and Cuban, British and Canadian - healthcare, Americans.
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