I recall a chat I had with an acquaintance in Nerja who told me how his mother had needed all this hospital and then home care for some serious ailment, and he stressed to me how free it all was, and I was there thinking, “Buddy, it’s never free, it’s just the system sharing out the costs via Social Security.”
Well, Motril’s Santa Ana Hospital has begun to give patients bills in which are detailed the costs of the services provided. It is informative only, that is, the user doesn’t have to pay the bill, but its purpose is clear enough: to remind people that Social Security is not free, that, in fact, it’s incredibly expensive.
The Motril initiative will spread to all Andalucia health centres and hospitals by the end of 2011, and will start by concentrating on cataracts and hernias, each bill revealing the costs of the intervention in all terms, material, doctors, nurses et cetera, as well as indirect costs such as food, cleaning, security, administration.
If you think about it (because we usually don’t and all too often abuse Social Security), this makes sense; it is expensive, and involves much more than just your lower abdominal pain.
Some Euro countries have already introduced a paying system, which involves the patient paying a token amount for an emergency visit or an operation, something like 10 or 15 euros, just to remind them of the cost. Fifteen euros of course doesn’t come close to covering any operation or visit, but some will refrain from visiting a hospital after they weigh this token amount against what’s really wrong with them. Anyway, a good idea, which will only help to re-enforce our Social Security which, as a public good, should be protected at all costs.