Universal Healthcare Insurance is for the Greater Good – Opinion

It must be about the patient, not about the unions or the insurance companies' profits. The patients are what counts.

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Health Minister George Pamborides is admirable to stick to his vision of universal healthcare insurance in the public sector. In the face of considerable entrenched resistance from private insurance companies, nurse’s unions, doctor’s associations, he is determined to push for the greater good. Perhaps he should start considering a new tax on private insurance companies, the same ones that are resisting the reforms. The money can be invested in the public healthcare sector for everyone’s benefit. It can be donated to the anti-cancer associations which have nurses and support infrastructure for cancer patients.

It would be for the greater good if everyone could feel secure that their healthcare insurance is affordable and easily available. There would be more money available to invest in the public hospitals, cancer facilities and hopefully in more research facilities. This would mean better quality medical care and a better reputation for Cyprus internationally.

If the general population is healthier, they can be more economically active, feeding more into the tax system and boosting the state’s ability to afford good salaries for their employees. Doctors and nurses would be more secure financially speaking. Private consumers would benefit. Insurance schemes would become more competitive and affordable, after all, each employee would already be covered by their healthcare insurance contribution and could choose to go public if they preferred. Private insurance companies would have to come up with better offers and make more advantageous deals with the private clinics in the case that patients decide to go the private route. Private clinics would need to reduce their prices – which are high by any standards, but particularly by Cyprus salary standards. Paradoxically, their income may rise because people will not hold back from going to the doctor because they can’t afford it this month.

If the state makes better use of our taxes, there’s no reason for anyone’s health to suffer unnecessarily. The House of Representatives needs to take its responsibility seriously. Instead of passing pointless resolutions about ancient history like Enosis, the present-day challenges in the public healthcare system must be dealt with. Courage must be shown so that today’s greater good is served.

The state’s number one priority is public health!

The healthcare bill has been pending since October 2016, almost six months ago. This is not positive or efficient! There is a crisis in the healthcare system, there is no doubt about it. Sub-standard service, long waiting times, sloppy systems and overwhelmed staff are the order of the day. Patients are suffering and dying needlessly simply because they can’t get good-quality care.

It must be about the patient, not about the unions or the insurance companies’ profits. The patients are what counts. Back to basics – patient first – and we could ALL be patients tomorrow. Any other attitude on the part of the House of Representatives is non-democratic and irresponsible. If money is considered before the patients’ needs, then it’s just wrong. Medicine has always adapted to serve the greater good, there’s no reason that Cyprus should be an exception.

I urge all involved to think of the greater good and move the bill forward so that tomorrow’s healthcare is in line with EU standards. We all deserve better treatment and the medical profession deserves more investment. But it can’t happen until the laws are passed and the country makes a clear decision to commit to better healthcare for all.

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