Feelings of revulsion and anger were caused by news published in Eleftherotypia (Freedom of Press) newspaper on December 5, 2011, which revealed some public hospitals in Greece have refused treatment to women in labour, because they did not have the money to pay hospital fees of 950 euro.
The incidents took place in November 2011, at public hospitals in Athens, Thessaloniki, Rhodes and Rethymnon. In these cases the cost of integrated unified hospital treatment according to Ministry of Health price list, came in at 950 (almost $1,300) euro for natural childbirth and 1,500 euro ($2,009) for birth by Caesarean section. Pregnant women pay the money in advance and afterwards the costs are offset with the labour allowance.
After several days delay, the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity intervened with a circular, stating that [el] no advance payment of this amount will be required in future, leaving however the issue of price difference between the official price list and the provided labour allowance still open to question.
Two women’s rights organizations, the Women’s Initiative Against Debt and Austerity Measures and the Independent Women’s Movement, have started to raise awareness of these incidents:
Giving birth is not a privilege of the rich! We demand free childbirth, we demand that the bailout funds go directly to health sector.
The news was shared and commented on throughout various social media channels by Greek netizens.
People of Greece react (we have edited out the Greek language versions)
Dimitris Oikonomou expresses his shame about the event [el]:
@d_oikon: WHAT A SHAMEEEEE! What the heck, how did we end up here? [Women in labour were cast off by hospitals because they had no money.]
While Gangelakis adds, in the spirit of the seasonal celebrations [el]:
@Gangelakis: Jesus Christ himself was born in a cave: Public hospitals refused treatment to women in labour, because they had no money to pay
Nemi commented [el] via her Facebook status update:
Reading news today one at a time each feels like a slap in the face
Lector stresses the very essence of this incident [el] in a discussion forum:
They didn’t look at the identity card, they looked at the wallet.
Comparisons to the US
In the same forum, simonbolivar makes a comparison [el] with the American health care system:
A COMPLETE HUMILIATION!
THE VILIFICATION OF A MECHANISM AND A GOVERNMENT!
They turned us into America, where you are finished if you don’t have any good insurance!
While, in the same vein, user Isis adds irony to the mix in a different forum [el]:
I am touched, we are becoming America.
Giving birth for free in public hospitals? Impossible. Wipe out childbirth allowance NOW as well.
In a news portal where the news was shared, user Harry expresses his anger in a comment under the original post about the hospital expenses [el] and the dealing with maternity:
Among all the attacks I have faced by the state (heavy taxation, electricity, additional taxes), I have to say I am most furious about the treatment my pregnant wife faces. My insurance no longer covers anything (Fund for Independent Professionals and Craftsmen) and the hospital is very expensive and its service is outrageous. Every country supports maternity except for Greece. If this situation continues, I will take my whole family and we will go abroad as immigrants.
Twitter user Jordi criticizes the ones responsible [el]:
@jorjito73: Women in labour were cast off by hospitals, because they had no moneyâ€¦Loverdos’ [Minister of Health] fault? Of course not, blame the cruel administration.
The discussion then moved to completely different subject about the future of the country and its future citizens [el]:
Births in Greece appear to have decreased by 15% during the last year [el], as the harsh economic situation is forcing many couples to delay having their first or second child.
Photo by thesoupboy via flickr