Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nine million Italians deprived of healthcare as austerity and privatisation bites

JUNE 6, 2012

‘The right to heath is guaranteed only to those who can afford it’, say pensioners

Nine million Italians are being deprived of healthcare because they can’t afford it. That’s the conclusion of a new report report by RBM-Salute Censis that also shows that spending on the public health system has halved since the onset of the financial crisis.

New and rising healthcare charges, long waiting lists and diagnostic appointments that are in practice near impossible to get in the public sector have prevented poorer Italians from obtaining medical treatment. The vulnerable are the hardest hit by the cuts and a creeping privatisation process: four million in the south, 2.4 million pensioners and 2.5 million with families and children, the study shows.

Those will deep pockets have increased expenditure on private healthcare by 25.5% in the past 10 years. But funding for the public health system has fallen from an average growth rate of 6% in 2000-2007 to 2.3% in 2008-2010. 77% of those who coughed up from their own purses said it was because of waiting lists. Now 31.7% are unhappy with the public health system, up from 21.7% three years ago.

‘Cuts to public health lower the quality of services and create inequality. For these reasons it must be a priority to find additional funding to stop less public spending leading to greater private expenditure and worse health for those who can’t pay,’ stated the report.

Commenting on the study, Carla Cantone, general secretary the SPI CGIL union of pensioners said:

‘The number of elderly that are forced to renounce healthcare will soon increase dramatically because of the deepening of the crisis, the government’s failure to respond and the dramatic situation in the public health system.

‘We have got to unsustainable situation in which the right to heath is guaranteed only to those who can afford it and those who go private. We call on the govermment to act with urgency, boosting public health and guaranteeing access to health to those who need it.’

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