Why Did Finland’s Healthcare System Fail? Part 3
Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
The healthcare system is not rosy for the people in Finland. It has been getting worse since March 2019 despite the New York Times’ glorification of it nine months later in December 2019.
Bernie Sanders continually ignores Finland’s healthcare system’s reality as he tries to convince people that “Medicare for All” will fix our health care system.
Finland’s healthcare system’s problems are multiple. Finland’s government collapsed due its massive socialized medicine program even though the healthcare system is not completely free.
Finland has struggled to keep its promises to its people.
What are the principle reasons for the failure? `
- Finland’s “Free” Healthcare: Fiscally Unsustainable
Governments cannot provide quality healthcare to the masses in a fiscally sustainable way. Period.
In March, just after Juha Sipila’s Finish government resigned, the governor of the Bank of Finland, Ollie Rehn, warned that reform remained urgent “from the point of view of fiscal sustainability.”
The Finish population is aging, and birth rates are falling. The number of taxpayers paying into the system is decreasing. The overall population is living longer. All three reasons are putting a greater strain on medical resources.
In 2018, the average single Finn faced a net average tax rate of 30%. With President Trump’s tax cut the average U.S. rate is 23.8%. If a U.S.tax payer is earning $250,000 a year or more in the U.S. there is an additional 3.8% supplemental Medicare tax increase despite President Trump’s tax cut from 38% to 23.8%. Our Medicare and Medicaid programs are unsustainable and presently require more tax revenue or severe service cuts.
“Finns are having less and less children. People are getting older. So we need more people here because we need taxpayers,” says Juha Tuominen, the CEO of the largest hospital in Finland, which provides one in four Finns with specialized care.”
The solutions are to have more tax-paying people, increase the tax rate on tax-paying workers or cut services. With the government being in control it could try to do all three. Bernie Sanders’ $60 baby is a pipe dream.
In Finland, there have to be effective reforms. Right now, the system is unequal. The poor and people who live in remote areas are not being served.
Bernie, Elizbeth Warren, and the U.S. traditional media are glorifying the Finish system for unsuspecting Americans.
“People outside of Finland tend to see only the good sides of the system,” says Hiilamo.
“Normally, we show people the sunny side of the street, but there is a dark side of the street. And health care is on the dark side, and for many years we have had a problem.”
2. Finland’s “Free” Healthcare: Long Waits
Long wait times are one of the most predictable consequences of anything that is government-run, including health care.
In addition to long wait times, the government’s efforts to cut costs and be more efficient have resulted in ill people, including at emergency care facilities, not getting to see a physician until they can “justify” the need to see a physician to a nurse.
A Finnish patient gave the newspaper The Guardian this case history.
“Imagine going to your nearest doctors’ office at 9 am on a weekday with your sick six-year-old daughter because you cannot make an appointment over the phone.
After your drive to the doctor’s office in another part of the city, you can’t simply book a time with the receptionist. There isn’t one.
Instead, you must swipe your daughter’s national insurance card through a machine, which gives you a number. Then you and your feverish child simply sit and wait. Or rather, you stand, because the room is so crowded that people are sitting on the floor, on steps, or leaning against walls.
The numbers come up on a screen every 10 minutes or so, in no particular order so you’ve no idea how long your wait will be as your daughter complains of feeling cold then hot and then cold again.
By 10.45 a.m., another patient’s dad exclaims he’s been there since 8.15, he’s had enough, and he’s going to go to a private GP. “You used to just be able to make an appointment with a doctor!” he says angrily.
You see, you are not even waiting to see a GP. You’re waiting to see a nurse in order to justify to her how quickly your child needs to see a GP or whether she needs to see one at all.
At 11.30, you give up and take your daughter to see a private doctor as well, forking out £50 for the privilege.
This isn’t some nightmare vision of the NHS after 10 years of Tory cuts. This happened to me recently in a country I have moved to from Britain that is normally lauded as the shining example of a successful welfare state.”
Finland has one of the worst health services in Europe according to The Guardian. Its health service has been in a perilous state for decades and it is getting worse. Nothing has been done since its government collapsed in March 2019.
Bernie is leading America down the garden path with a misrepresentation.
A publicly run and funded health care system — known as “Medicare for All” — is now the senator’s big ideas!
- Finland’s “Free” Healthcare: Doctor Shortages, Patients Fleeing to Private Healthcare
Doctors and patients who can leave Finland’s centralized health care system are doing so in droves. Only the well off can afford to buy healthcare insurance.
According to [Samuli] Saarni, the President of the Finnish Medical Association, the number of doctors has not increased on a par with the larger workload – for example, in the last 15 years 4,200 new doctors have entered the workforce but only 330 of them have gone to work in healthcare centres.
Doctors are now responsible for extra paperwork, including renewing electronic prescriptions. These time-consuming tasks take away from the time they can spend with patients.
“The current set-up doesn’t support doctors spending as much time as possible with patients,” Saarni told HS.
The shortage of physicians and extra scut work has resulted in long waiting times for medical appointments. Over 1.1 million of the 5 million people living in Finland have now opted for private medical insurance.
Every second child born has private medical insurance. Only fifty percent of child deliveries are done by the health service.
Despite this, the public healthcare sector is still under great strain.
Public healthcare centres have lost experienced physicians to the private sector.
The public sector physicians’ patient loads have resulted in an increasing percentage of physician burnout by young doctors at healthcare centres according to Dr. Saarni.
Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru announced on Tuesday that each and every citizen should be guaranteed a doctor’s appointment within seven days of asking for one. This is easier said than done.
Tampere’s Daily Aamulehti reported that the challenge is great. In the city’s municipal clinic at Hatanpää, patients waited for an appointment for a median of 42 days.
The Tammela health centre reported average waiting periods of 11 days, while private Mehiläinen clinics in the city saw patients in just two days.
“The situation simply cannot continue,” Kiuru said.
4. Finland’s “Free” Healthcare: Requires More Taxpayer Funding
The Finnish government is pouring more of its taxpayers’ money into the flailing system, but it’s not clear that throwing money at the myriad problems is the answer.
Finland is planning to plow some 200 million euros into municipal healthcare services in the next four years to try to reduce waiting times for non-urgent appointments.
In 2020, an initial 70 million euros will be available as part of the new government’s drive for reform of health and social care reform, as stated by the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru.
Long waiting times, few physicians, ill-equipped and poorly maintained hospitals, and a long list of other failures have resulted in broad discontent with the extremely expensive Finnish healthcare system.
All socialistic healthcare systems are constructed incorrectly. A viable healthcare system can be constructed so that consumers are responsible for their care and not the government.
There are no government-run healthcare systems that are viable anywhere on the planet. Norway is the only country whose free healthcare system is surviving in. It survives only through the massive infusions of cash from an oil-rich government.
The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.
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