Venezuelan health care system collapsing

posted at 10:41 am on November 6, 2013 by Steve Eggleston

The Associated Press ran a surprisingly scathing look at the current state of health care in Venezuela, In a word, the whole system, and especially the parts run by the government as part of a 1999 constitutional mandate to provide “free” universal health care, is collapsing:

Driving the crisis in health care are the same forces that have left Venezuelans scrambling to find toilet paper, milk and automobile parts. Economists blame government mismanagement and currency controls set by the late President Hugo Chavez for inflation pushing 50 percent annually. The government controls the dollars needed to buy medical supplies and has simply not made enough available….

Doctors not allied with the government say many patients began dying from easily treatable illnesses when Venezuela’s downward economic slide accelerated after Chavez’s death from cancer in March. Doctors say it’s 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.

Almost everything needed to mend and heal is in critically short supply: needles, syringes and paraffin used in biopsies to diagnose cancer; drugs to treat it; operating room equipment; X-ray film and imaging paper; blood and the reagents needed so it can be used for transfusions.

Last month, the government suspended organ donations and transplants. At least 70 percent of radiotherapy machines, precisely what (Evelina) 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.

No wonder Venezuela needs a Vice Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness – people are not naturally happy when they are sick and cannot depend on their government-provided doctors to get them better. Speaking of those doctors, the AP notes that half of the doctors that were on the public system when former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez came to power left practice.

The privately-run portion is a bit better, enough so that the government employees get treated in that system instead of the publicly-run one. Still, there are problems that look familiar to those who deal with Medicare and Medicaid:

Venezuela’s 400 private hospitals and clinics are overburdened and strapped for supplies, 95 percent of which must be imported, said Dr. Carlos Rosales, president of the association that represents them.

The private system has just 8,000 of the country’s more than 50,000 hospital beds but treats 53 percent of the country’s patients, including the 10 million public employees with health insurance. Rosales said insurers, many state-owned, are four to six months behind in payments and it is nearly impossible to meet payrolls and pay suppliers.

Worse, government price caps set in July for common procedures are impossible to meet, Rosales said. 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.

Gee, who knew that late and woefully-inadequate compensation from government to private doctors would be a problem?

As I usually do, I recommend reading the whole article. The AP writer does a good human-interest look at the saga of Evelina Gonzalez, a 30-something woman of limited means (even for Venezuela) with breast cancer who, thanks to the willful abandonment of the citizenry’s acute health issues by the state, now has had the cancer spread to her lymph nodes. I especially recommend those who unthinkingly vote Democrat in the vain hope of winning the welfare equivalent of the lottery to read what is happening to one of their soulmates.


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I knew Obama was more like Chavez than Reagan.

All those for single payer can head to Venezuela.

redguy on November 6, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Hey socialists, Chavez it up your backside.

Flange on November 6, 2013 at 10:45 AM

Barky wishes he could have all those cool medals like in the painted pig in the picture

ninjacoastie on November 6, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Apparently Venezuela, unlike the U.S. hasn’t had the right people to implement it yet. Maybe The Won can go down and fix it after he leaves office here.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2013 at 10:47 AM

No wonder Chavez kept running to Cuba when he got sick.

Bitter Clinger on November 6, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Maybe Sean Penn can bust loose a couple of bucks and have her shipped to Cuba for treatment.

GarandFan on November 6, 2013 at 10:47 AM

If only they had single payer!!

Gatsu on November 6, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Here’s an article that looks at various “singe payer,” ie govt run, health care systems, and what’s in store for us Obamacare: The Unimaginable Suffering That Awaits Us: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/john-perazzo/obamacare-the-unimaginable-suffering-that-awaits-us

Btw, I hear that Singapore represents an incredible health care system that should be looked at, where the costs of services like angioplasties are like 13k instead of 80k. A huge difference.

anotherJoe on November 6, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Voting for commies has consequences, but at least they stuck it to those evil successful people.

forest on November 6, 2013 at 10:51 AM

And Princess Pyrite and the GOP de-elite it worships is too cowardly to call this out. By the time the U.S. economy stops choking on trillion dollar annual deficits, we’ll be -begging- to be Venezuela.

ebrown2 on November 6, 2013 at 10:51 AM

The country’s 1999 constitution guarantees free universal health care to Venezuelans

Says right there that everyone gets healthcare, period.

forest on November 6, 2013 at 10:53 AM

“The Associated Press ran a surprisingly scathing look at the current state of health care in Venezuela…”

Why did that make me laugh?

Tsar of Earth on November 6, 2013 at 10:56 AM

The country’s 1999 constitution guarantees free universal health care to Venezuelans

Says right there that everyone gets healthcare, period.

forest on November 6, 2013 at 10:53 AM

The Soviet Union had a “constitution” also that guaranteed free universal health care…..

Socialists/Communists have to lie – and if they can get 51% to believe them – that’s it….
And that is where we are headed. Just wait until those 51% try to see a doctor.

redguy on November 6, 2013 at 10:58 AM

Too bad this article did not mention that the situation is practically identical in Puerto Rico, which has had socialized medicine since the 1950′s. Maybe the fact that it’s under the U.S. flag would jolt a few people.

Easier to throw stones at another country than your own.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 11:06 AM

30-something with spreading breast cancer–there is your War on Women Gimmecrats!

hillsoftx on November 6, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Here’s an article that looks at various “singe payer,” ie govt run, health care systems, and what’s in store for us Obamacare: The Unimaginable Suffering That Awaits Us: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/john-perazzo/obamacare-the-unimaginable-suffering-that-awaits-us

Btw, I hear that Singapore represents an incredible health care system that should be looked at, where the costs of services like angioplasties are like 13k instead of 80k. A huge difference.

anotherJoe on November 6, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Good article; any links on Singapore? Sounds like a possible destination for offshore healthcare for post-Obamacare Americans.

slickwillie2001 on November 6, 2013 at 11:07 AM

CGI has a new customer! All they need is a bit more Canadian software know-how.

virgo on November 6, 2013 at 11:08 AM

Dial +58 (212) FU**YOU

Shy Guy on November 6, 2013 at 11:10 AM

“We now have no lifetime limits” Senator Nelson says.

What a joke. But we will have rationed care, and panels that decide in what cases various life saving treatments will be administered. “No lifetime limits” is worthless where you got to wait in line for months or can’t get treatment, it would be like in a country where there’s hyper inflation and you need wheelbarrows of cash to buy just bread, where people are told “this is so much better, we are all millionaires now!” Right, “unlimited lifetime limits” … where if you are a certain age or if a treatment is too costly, you don’t get any treatment, you suffer and die.

anotherJoe on November 6, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Sounds like it would take a miracle to make socialized medicine work. Too bad they’re atheistic communists.

kcewa on November 6, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Easier to throw stones at another country than your own.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Oh, I dunno. Around here people throw stones, some pretty big honkin’ rocks too, at our country all the time. I’ve been doing it for a long time. That doesn’t mean we don’t love it, it just means we’re not liking where it’s headed.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Sounds like it would take a miracle to make socialized medicine work. Too bad they’re atheistic communists.

kcewa on November 6, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Not really. Simple in fact. All you’d have to do is completely change the basic nature of human beings.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2013 at 11:16 AM

A couple quick anecdotes from “free” government healthcare.

1 – A friend of mine shattered a femur in a car accident. They had him on a gurney in the air conditioner closet for four days before he saw a doctor, and then they put him in an ICU bed for three days before they looked at it.

2 – Another close friend of mine with existing congestive heart failure collapsed and was rushed to emergency. Where he stayed for 9 days before seeing a doctor.

3 – A man I used to work with had his son break an arm in a fall from a tree. They sent him from the hospital to one almost 80 miles away, then turned him away there and sent him back to the same hospital he had been in before, which then tried to transfer him back. This man is a pastor and had to fly into a towering rage to get them to look at his son.

4 – A man whose daughter I wanted to date and who is an elder in my church fell from a tree and broke his back. He was left in the corridor for 11 days without treatment and consequently, has a hunch now.

Need I go on? This is not Venezuela. This is Puerto Rico today, the United States of America tomorrow, and any other nation with “free” “national” “healthcare” at some point.

Naturally, everyone with any money goes to the private hospital in San Juan, or failing that, they hop a medical flight to Texas or Miami. We are balkanized between rich and poor, and it is not pretty.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Good article; any links on Singapore? Sounds like a possible destination for offshore healthcare for post-Obamacare Americans.

slickwillie2001 on November 6, 2013 at 11:07 AM

I heard this author on Fox a couple nights ago talking about his book and the dramatic difference costs of health care: http://www.amazon.com/Affordable-Excellence-Singapore-Health-System-ebook/dp/B00CDUS7WS

Apparently, and I just have a quick sense of it, everyone has (though mandatory) health saving accounts, and there is high profile price competition for all medical services. Everyone pays for their own medical care, so the costs are driven way way down. That would have been the “reform” for us, not Obamacare which may triple medical costs and stifle life saving innovation and bankrupt us. Maybe Republicans can adopt the Singapore model as the “replacement” proposal for ObamaDontCare, and for Medicare while we are at it!

anotherJoe on November 6, 2013 at 11:20 AM

I came from Venezuela, actually I was born and raised in Maracay, the city mentioned in this article. I left it in 1990 because it was already too socialist of a nightmare for me to raise my family there. Back then, there was already “free health care” for all, as well as education, housing, etc., Chavez did not create any of that – although he would like you to think he did- but did put it in the constitution that he had written for his new socialist utopia and made sure everybody knew he REALLY CARED for the poor because the constitution said so.

Everything in this article is true. Most of my family is still there and me and my sister, for example- had to buy a topical ointment used to treat basal carcinoma for my mom here in the US because she could not find it down there and if she did it was 5 to 10 times the price it was here. My sister has muscle lost on her hands, and they don’t know why but she has to wait for a traveling neurologist to come to her town to see her. The saddest part is, THE SAME THINGS THAT HAPENED THERE TO FACILITATE THE SITUATION MY NATIVE COUNTRY IS IN NOW, ARE HAPPENING HERE!!! WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!

Chavez ran on hope for the poor and changing the way the government was run in Venezuela. Remind you of anyone? He said “being rich is bad, we have to make sure we share everybody equally”. I mean, the only thing keeping us alive now is that Obama can’t be more overtly like Chavez because the American people -some of us- would not take it, but I see the road that we are in, I see the direction we are going and I can’t help it but see what happened in Venezuela being played all over again.

Please America, wake up, I have nowhere else to go…

TitleofLiberty on November 6, 2013 at 11:20 AM

That’s the kind of constitution Obama wants, one with positive rights, not just negatives. That’s been the goal since FDR.

In ten years, if this nonsense continues with medical care, we will be in the same predicament as Venezuela. He’s following Chavez’s playbook to the letter.

PattyJ on November 6, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Wow, who could have seen this coming?

Chris of Rights on November 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Naturally, everyone with any money goes to the private hospital in San Juan, or failing that, they hop a medical flight to Texas or Miami. We are balkanized between rich and poor, and it is not pretty.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Obamacare will remove the Texas and Miami options. Sorry.

kcewa on November 6, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Wow, who could have seen this coming?

Chris of Rights on November 6, 2013 at 11:31 AM

As another poster pointed out so accurately

“Helen Keller”.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2013 at 11:33 AM

Obamacare will remove the Texas and Miami options. Sorry.

kcewa on November 6, 2013 at 11:33 AM

There’s always Cuba.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2013 at 11:34 AM

If your country has ObamaCare, it will keep ObamaCare…

albill on November 6, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Easier to throw stones at another country than your own.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Oh, but I did throw stones at my own country. It just so happens that Venezuela went down the path first.

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 11:43 AM

The country’s 1999 constitution guarantees free universal health care to Venezuelans

Says right there that everyone gets healthcare, period.

forest on November 6, 2013 at 10:53 AM

For some reason this just struck me as hilarious.

WitchDoctor on November 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Too bad this article did not mention that the situation is practically identical in Puerto Rico, which has had socialized medicine since the 1950′s. Maybe the fact that it’s under the U.S. flag would jolt a few people.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Got a link or two?

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Q. What’s more moral than Free, Universal, Health Care?

A. Putting a bullet into the head of everyone who gets sick.

Because at least that’s honest.

(look at the bright side from the Venezuelan Govm’ts POV – they won’t have to do deal with the problem of sick people much longer, because they’re all going to be dead)

Tom Servo on November 6, 2013 at 11:45 AM

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Thanks for yet another view of our dark future. Just. Damn.

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Please America, wake up, I have nowhere else to go…

TitleofLiberty on November 6, 2013 at 11:20 AM

I am so sorry. The only people I feel sorrier for than those like you, who escaped this nightmare once, are my children, who did nothing to deserve this horror.

God have mercy.

pannw on November 6, 2013 at 11:52 AM

So how come the uber rich big mouths aren’t flying down supplies? You know:

Sean Penn
Oliver Stone
Michael Moore

Blake on November 6, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Hey, we’re Americans, we do everything better than everybody else, including socialism.

We’ll see.

Make your plans to avoid Obamacare now, avoid the rush.

MichaelGabriel on November 6, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Got a link or two?

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Sure, plenty. Let me look for some in Spanish. Or you could go by personal experience, which I have in spades.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Darn keyboard. Let me look for some in *English*.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 12:11 PM

Oh, but I did throw stones at my own country. It just so happens that Venezuela went down the path first.

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Oh, Steve – I’m not talking about you. I am talking about all the libs who wring their hands at the poor quality of healthcare in other countries without considering why that might be.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Okay, this link is a good place to start with the FACTS about healthcare here. http://www.emreportcard.org/PuertoRico.aspx

Some gems from the report -

“Only three hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms.”

“Only 1.3 board-certified emergency physicians per 100,000 people.”

“The dearth of public health information makes it difficult to provide a true comparison between Puerto Rico and the nation in many respects.” Ring a bell, anyone? Corrupt tinpot countries never keep good records – kinda like the Obama administration on oh, any number of issues? This is your future. You won’t be able to fight the all-encompassing morass of bureaucracy because you won’t have any good data to work with.

Another good link: http://blog.panampost.com/frank-worley-lopez/2013/10/22/long-waits-could-spell-disaster-at-fajardo-hospital/

And yet another scorching article: http://news.yahoo.com/doctors-flee-puerto-rico-us-mainland-165338626.html

As a patient, I refused to participate in the government-run healthcare system due to just this (and pride) and saved till I could go to a private hospital for some necessary surgery. Now as a nursing student with clinical rotations, I see things that would leave your mouth gaping with astonishment. The difference is that so many years of halfways-working systems and general corruption have left the people in a sort of fog of despair and “ay bendito.” But Americans will not be so amenable and there will be chaos.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 12:24 PM

“We now have no lifetime limits” Senator Nelson says.

What a joke. But we will have rationed care, and panels that decide in what cases various life saving treatments will be administered. “No lifetime limits” is worthless where you got to wait in line for months or can’t get treatment, it would be like in a country where there’s hyper inflation and you need wheelbarrows of cash to buy just bread, where people are told “this is so much better, we are all millionaires now!” Right, “unlimited lifetime limits” … where if you are a certain age or if a treatment is too costly, you don’t get any treatment, you suffer and die.

anotherJoe on November 6, 2013 at 11:11 AM

We won’t have lifetime limits in dollar terms, but the Death Panel will determine your limit of healthcare based on the ghoulish Ezekiel Emanuel’s concept of ‘community value’.

slickwillie2001 on November 6, 2013 at 12:31 PM

Paging Dr. Penn

Paging Dr. Penn

galtg on November 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM

As goes Venezuela goes the USA.

Schadenfreude on November 6, 2013 at 12:50 PM

If you think your health care is expensive now, just wait until it is ‘free’ and has a ‘single payer’.

Monopsonies fail for their own set of reasons and a ‘single payer’ will do just that. Even if you make it ‘free’ the problems of the Monopsonist economy will doom it.

Soon I expect that Venezuelans will be bartering in squares of toilet paper.

ajacksonian on November 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM

I can imagine Valarie Jarett consoling Obama: “There, there, I know it hurts that Venezuela beat us to the bottom, but they had a head start!”

drunyan8315 on November 6, 2013 at 1:04 PM

I bet national healthcare there would work too if it wasn’t for the dang Republicans… /sarc

nextgen_repub on November 6, 2013 at 1:06 PM

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 12:24 PM

Thanks. That is very damning.

Steve Eggleston on November 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Paging Dr. Penn

Paging Dr. Penn

galtg on November 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM

[shudder]

Blake on November 6, 2013 at 1:21 PM

There isn’t anything in Venezuela that isn’t collapsing.

NotCoach on November 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM

I am talking about all the libs who wring their hands at the poor quality of healthcare in other countries without considering why that might be.

JoseQuinones on November 6, 2013 at 12:14 PM

About the only thing I’ve heard libs say about health care in other countries is how wonderful it is.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2013 at 1:44 PM

There aren’t any socons in Venezuela.

Murphy9 on November 6, 2013 at 1:56 PM

About the only thing I’ve heard libs say about health care in other countries is how wonderful it is.

Oldnuke on November 6, 2013 at 1:44 PM

That isn’t what really pisses me off about this garbage. What really pisses me off is the media’s total coverup of just how atrocious non-American healthcare systems are.

NotCoach on November 6, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Soon I expect that Venezuelans will be bartering in squares of toilet paper.

ajacksonian on November 6, 2013 at 12:52 PM

Can you spare a square?

trigon on November 6, 2013 at 2:42 PM

On the upside:
Finding vacant homes or apartments to rent in Venezuela should be quite easy.
And getting easier, one neglected patient at a a time.

orangemtl on November 6, 2013 at 3:14 PM

hopefully it will collapse here.

alanstern on November 6, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Please America, wake up, I have nowhere else to go…

TitleofLiberty on November 6, 2013 at 11:20 AM

Some of us are working hard to ensure that the light of liberty will survive somewhere here when the rest of the place goes dark. You’ll be welcome there. Bring a covered dish, some skills, and a love of freedom.

galtg on November 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM

Some of this has me thinking more like “Paging Dr Fine. Paging Dr Howard. Paging Dr Fine. Dr Fine, Dr Howard, Dr Fine, you’re needed in Emergency….”

GWB on November 6, 2013 at 3:55 PM