Future warnings for America from an unlikely source–Greece, the small and broke European nation–acting as an example of what could happen in the U.S. if  healthcare becomes an entitlement program. It appears that the Southern European country, now in its fifth year of recession, is at risk of its medical system becoming a “privilege” to those that can afford the care.

I have been warning of exactly this possibility happening here in the States, and although to some it may seem far fetched, just watching Greece deal with the collapse of its social system shows a small glimpse of what could happen if things go the way the government, and many people, hope it does.
Over one million people are officially unemployed in Greece. And the once thriving economy, now ravaged by recession and budget cuts, faces a government entitlement health care system that can’t handle the demand.
Previously, most Greeks had turned to private care whenever possible–paying nearly 40 percent of total health costs out of their own pocket–one of the highest rates among developed nations. But today demand is up 20-30%, and the state-run system can’t handle the influx. Many people are also trying to “game the system” by using the ER for routine care instead of making appointments and paying up-front. Think that can’t happen in America?
Despite the overflow, Greek hospitals are trying to keep things in check:

“After recent reforms forced us to take money from people who lack healthcare coverage, more and more patients try to avoid making appointments for lack of cash,” says Meropi Manteou, a lung specialist at Sotiria general hospital in Athens.

“They come in with the flu and try to pass it off as an emergency. We do what we can to help the poorest that come but I don’t know how long we’ll be able to turn a blind eye,” Manteou said.

State hospitals are having to make do with reduced funding, doctor salaries cut by a quarter, a chronic shortage of nurses and overtime pay pending since December. The health ministry say that the budget cuts were necessary to rid a system, originally modeled in the 1980s on Britain’s National Health Service, of decades of wasteful practice.
Sound familiar? It should; it’s exactly what U.S. politicians and pundits are saying about “the broken American healthcare system.” 
But my point is not to make a political statement, because I am neither for nor against the current sickcare system as it is. I have said it repeatedly: We have the best medical system in the world, and it costs money, period. But if you want to avoid what the Greek people are going through right now, it’s simple: Change your ways.
The medical system shouldn’t be used as a run-to for every minor illness. I know the flu sucks, but it ain’t a heart attack. Drink lots of water and get rest, and don’t go to your grandma’s house, or your sister’s with the new born baby. And make sure you drink sufficient water before you get the flu. Then you won’t need a dang emergency room. 

When you rely on the medical system for acne, and blemishes, and the inability to sleep, and hyper-sadness, and hyper-elatedness, and because your back hurts, and because your stomach hurts, yet you don’t really think about your health otherwise…then, yes, we may just tap our already “broken” system. 

And just as the Greeks now may see good medical care become a privilege for those with money, it is happening on another level here in the U.S., with boutique medical services (concierge medicine). So if we get to keep our new socialized sickcare system, be prepared for DMV-like service at your local sick clinic. 
Thank you Greece for showing us what it might be like; and also for the reminder to be careful of what we rely on.
Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.