We have a tax here on every cent we withdraw from the bank. Regardless of how much you draw, write a cheque for, or spend on credit, if it comes out of your bank account, it is taxed. No one minded this tax, as it was meant to go purely into healthcare. The thing is, they have proved that less than 20% of those funds made it into healthcare.
The senate has voted that this tax be dropped. The government is upset, as the gravy train is being flushed. So far, they've said that they can reinstitute that tax any time they want to and assign the taxes however they want to. Charming.
On health care. Do we have a good health system here? Let's just say that my experience of the health care system here hasn't been that favourable, but I won't judge by that. There is public health here. You go to the clinic in your neighbourhood and wait to see a doctor. Depending on your neighbourhood and how sickly everyone is, the wait is anything from half an hour to most of the day. He then refers you to a specialist. Somehow, nothing gets done here without a specialist. The appointment is made often months in advance. Some specialists are harder to get into than others. The waiting list to get into the dentist is almost a year long. Once you have seen the specialist, you get your meds and/or tests. The tests don't usually involve too much waiting, but that also depends on what tests there are. Meds can be collected at the clinic's own pharmacies or at govt discount farmacies - if you're lucky. The rest you go to a regular pharmacy for and like anywhere else in the world, that hurts the pocket. Private medical care goes two routes... the medical insurance route or pay your own way.
My first medical experiences here weren't good. Tat has had ear issues for a large part of her life, so when she had ear infection, we took her off to the private hospital (we had taken out health insurance for her) to be seen to. She was ushered into a cubicle, which served as the doctor's surgery. That swing a cat thing is a joke. You couldn't swing a goldfish in there. She was given a prescription and we went off to the pharmacy. Five pharmacies later, it was confirmed... the medication that was prescribed did not exist... at all! Some time later, I went to the clinic with the aim of seeing a skin specialist. I saw the gp who waxed lyrical (actually, not that lyrical... she was nasty) about my weight. I'm no smallfry, but next to the miniscule Brazilians, I'm a giant... well, almost. Anyhow, she packed me off to the skin specialist (the reason I was seeing her). Another day, another month, I went to the location given, another clinic in a neighbouring suburb. I waited to be signed up - you get to sign up at each location... what fun. I then offered my card with the appointment written down, which sent them into a frenzy. Apparently that skin specialist hadn't been at that location in two years. I was miffed. I had lost a day's work for that, so I put it off for another few years before trying again now. Needless to say, not all medical experiences here are like this, but...
That isn't the point of this blog. It was just to give you an idea why I prefer to stay away from the medical profession here as much as possible. The point of this blog is how R$10 (about $6) killed a girl.
In the news tonight...
A girl went to the government pharmacy ('Farmacia Popular'), which is specifically set up to give meds at discounted rates with the premise that everyone deserves cheap healthcare. Her medication cost R$22 ($12). She only had R$12 ($6) on her. Her need for the medicine was urgent. It after hours, no other pharmacies open and she was having an asthma attack. Her father offered the title deeds to his car as surety that they'd come back with the remaining money, but they were turned down. The girl died from that asthma attack.
Something is very wrong with this system.