John Simkin Posted December 31, 2007 Author Share Posted December 31, 2007 Let me respond to John's original posting and say something about the situation in Sweden. But first let me extend my condolences to John's wife and John himself - I hope that you're both doing as well as can be expected … Judith is suffering from bone cancer, acute kidney failure, pneumonia and septicaemia. Last week she also had a heart attack. Yesterday we had the first bit of good news. The kidneys have started to work again. The next couple of days are going to be very important for her survival. Last year I earned about 350,000 SEK and paid about 108,000 SEK in direct taxation. My employer paid slightly less than I did in various types of payroll tax (the Swedish economy is doing very well at the moment, by the way).We are subject to a co-pay of 150 SEK each time we visit a clinic (although people under the age of 18 pay nothing at all). That's about $25. There's a cap of 1800 SEK per annum on that co-pay, so anyone who has a chronic condition quickly gets up to the limit and then pays no more for the rest of the year. If we're referred to a specialist, we pay between 80 SEK and 250 SEK, depending on what kind of specialist it is. That co-pay also counts towards the annual limit. There's a similar 1800 SEK per annum limit on costs for medicines. The state-run Apotek (drugstore/chemists) has an obligation to substitute cheaper generic drugs for any brand-name drug a doctor might prescribe. There's also something called 'guaranteed care', which says that you have to start receiving treatment from a specialist (if the condition warrants it) within 90 days. If your local health authority fails to meet this guarantee, you can seek treatment somewhere else in the country, or the world, and your local health authority is obliged to meet the bill. The health care system is basically excellent, with modern hospitals and properly-trained staff, although the current Conservative government is trying to run it down. (We're electing a Conservative government about once every 15 years at the moment. They get one term to screw things up, and then we have to spend 10 years or so putting things right again.). I was rather surprised by this. I always thought the Swedish system was like the NHS. Since Judith was diagnosed with bone cancer we have not had to pay for anything relating to her medical condition except parking the car at the hospital. Although there are prescription charges these are not paid by people with terminal illnesses or over retirement age (60 for women). No one pays for visits to doctors, clinics, hospitals or home visits (district nurses, GPs, etc.). There are of course serious financial implications of being seriously ill. For example, people often have difficulty paying their mortgages when the main earner is suffering from a serious illness. To be fair to our government, they have recently introduced a scheme where someone who is terminally ill gets a very generous “disability pension”. Overall I have been very impressed with the treatment that Judith has received. There are problems with the system (as I described earlier) but once you make it clear that you are going to hold them accountable for their actions, the treatment is excellent. Judith has been moved to a kidney specialist unit. This includes specialist nurses and a team of doctors on site. Every day we have a meeting with the doctors who tell us about the condition of my wife and the treatments they are using. Our personal doctor (GP) phones me at home several times a week to discuss the latest developments. The nurses are generally very good. About 75% of them are foreign immigrants but they clearly are well-trained and all except a German male nurse, can speak English fluently. There is a problem with bank (temporary) staff but none of these are employed in the specialist unit. It seems to me that the government has done a successful job in improving our NHS. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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