Monday, November 17, 2008

Bring out your dead (again)!

According to Italian newspapers, the island of Sicily and Finland have about the same population, 5 million people, yet Sicily’s healthcare costs about 30% MORE than the Finnish one. Why? Well, because local Sicilian family doctors have kept receiving regional funding not for patients who still today are “alive and kicking” (to paraphrase an old Simple Minds song), but for those who have gone on to a better world! Approximately 51,000 of them, since 1990. And family doctors on the splendid island of Sicily (and there are many of them) have continued receiving funding, even for those patients who are no longer walking on the face of the earth.

According to the Guardia di Finanza (the Italian tax police), the financial damage to the Sicilian healthcare system amounts to “only” 14 million Euros. Italian journalists have therefore posed the following question: but if a family doctor doesn’t see his own patient for months or years, shouldn’t he/she do some type of follow-up? In normal cases (and countries) yes, but certainly not in Sicily.

One can see day in and day out that where there’s an (illegal) buck (or Euro) to be made in Italy, you can be sure that it can be made. Even by milking the dearly departed!