Big Government Fails Greek Kids

A short note on Greece today.

There are many victims of Europe’s welfare-state driven crisis. The worst hit are those who have become deeply dependent on the welfare state for their daily survival. Once government started walking away from its promises, they took the hardest beating. And nowhere in Europe has government been more cynical in defaulting on promises than in Greece. We should therefore not be surprised to hear horror stories about the effects of austerity on the Greek people. This one from Enet English, a Greek news website, is just one in a long line of examples:

Greece is very close to ‘tearing down the vaccination barrier’, says Nikitas Kanakis, who heads the Greek section of the international humanitarian aid organisation Médecins du Monde. Thousands of children in Greece have been left unvaccinated because they and their parents have no health insurance, the Greek section of an international humanitarian aid organisation has said.

Greece has a single-payer system of sorts, with focus on employer-based coverage. If you have a job in Greece you are covered by the tax-funded IKA health insurance plan.Those how lose their job can continue coverage under a model that somewhat resembles the American COBRA system, with continued insurance coverage – provided of course that the person continues to pay for their insurance coverage.

If you do not have a job you are covered though through a different system referred to as ESY, or the National Health System of Greece. In theory, this means that poor children get coverage for their health needs through government; in practice, though, the past several years of austerity has damaged every entitlement system in Greece, including the health care system. So far there are no comprehensive studies of the accumulated effects of austerity on the Greek economy, but it is safe to say that no government entitlement system has been left alone. Ostensibly, access to tax-subsidized immunizations is among the austerity victims.

As always, government pretends to maintain the programs it has slashed funding for. This prevents the private sector from stepping in and replacing what government no longer provides. The root problem is not austerity – that is an ancillary problem – but the very existence of the welfare state. Do away with it, restore economic freedom and the Greek people will have a fighting chance to become prosperous again.