Budget Blowout – the Greek Health Tragedy

Greek flag

It’s not a good idea to be old and sick in a country suffering the effects of the global financial meltdown.

In June 2012 Greece finds itself in a state of financial embargo, but many in the eurozone are not far behind. The health system is collapsing under the weight of huge debts to providers, many of whom have not been paid for well over a year. Public hospitals have been hit with 40% budget cuts as part of enforced austerity measurers. Food is even running out in some hospitals, let alone basic medical supplies. Commercial pharmacies are reluctant to dispense drugs without up-front payment, claiming insurers are refusing reimburse them.  They claim their industry is in debt to the tune of 540million euros.  The Pharmacists’ Association of the Athens region has plans to open a bank account where philanthropists can donate towards the high costs of medicines.

What’s more pensions have been cut to a level that will not support the cost of modern medicine. According to Zoe Grammatoglou, head of the Cancer Sufferers Volunteer Organisation, some patients are being forced by financial constraints to drop out of chemotherapy treatments.  Aged care is becoming unaffordable as families struggle to put food on the table.

The anticipated increase in the cost of western allopathic medicine associated with the longevity boom (or an increasingly ageing population) is one of the great fears of industrialised societies and has existed well before the beginning of the GFC.  The Greek situation may well be the canary in the mine – a symptom of the collapse of medicine as we presently know it, based on heavy use of pharmaceuticals and intense use of pathology and other forms of testing  Many people are looking hard at how we might find more affordable ways of staying healthy and dealing with a majority of health issues.


  1. We would be interested to hear from Longevityboomers who understand the impending crisis and are exploring this challenge.

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