Bulgaria Patients: Health Care 2012 Budget Life-Threatening
Bulgaria's health system will be plagued by chronic underfunding next year, putting at risk the life of all Bulgarian citizens, who need medical aid, patients have alarmed.
"Bulgaria's budget for 2012 allocates, yet again, just 4% of GDP for the health care sector, which falls a long way short of the money needed to guarantee security for the Bulgarian patients, high-quality services, prevention and access to modern treatment," reads an open letter, circulated to the media and the state institutions by "Heath protection", a patients' organization.
It insists that the government increase up to 6% of GDP the financial resources allotted to the health care sector.
After years of lumbering reforms in Bulgaria's health care system, hospitals and the health insurance fund have reached the point of quickly running out of cash, dooming patients to suffering.
A number of governments have failed to implement reforms, a series of major reshuffles at the health ministry over the last few years have failed to make a difference and plug the holes in the system.
All employed and self-employed Bulgarians are obliged to make monthly health insurance contributions of 8% of their income to the Health Insurance Fund, but it has been plagued by corruption and funds siphoning. To top it all off the state pays meager health insurance contributions to the people under its wing.
As a result Europe-wide polls show that the lowest levels of satisfaction with health care are reported in Bulgaria, which even lags behind Albania and Macedonia.
Critics say Bulgaria's finance ministry belt-tightening policy has created the illusion of a healthy economy on the back of the people, who are three times poorer than the average EU citizen and are just getting poorer.
When struck by a severe condition, Bulgarian nouveaux riches regularly go abroad for treatment. The less fortunate have more sinister stories to tell.
Last year hospitals across the country were forced to suspend planned operations and reduced admission of emergency cases. Some even switched into a war-time regime, tapping into the reserves, meant to be used in case of natural disasters and wars.
At the same time the European Union is offering BGN 300 M in funds for equipment and repair works at hospitals, but Bulgaria fails to come up with good projects to absorb them. Meanwhile expenses are constantly on the rise and both the state and the patients are forced to dig deeper into their pockets.
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