Friday, July 06, 2012

Say No To Socialism � Romania’s 20-Year Nightmare: Unraveling Socialized Health Care

In my other life in Communist Romania, I managed a large intelligence organization that, among other tasks, was charged with keeping alive a nationalized health care system which in the end bankrupted the country and generated popular contempt. That system, very similar to the Affordable Health Care for America Act, was a bureaucratic nightmare. And it still is a nightmare in the former Soviet empire.

There is no better way to visualize the eventual disaster that a nationalized health care system can generate than to watch The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. This movie was inspired by the heartbreaking true story of Constantin Nica, a real retired Romanian engineer who had the misfortune of growing old in a country that still maintained a nightmarish government health care bureaucracy twenty years after its last Communist dictator was gunned down by his own people.
The movie’s script follows the fictional Mr. Lazarescu as a Romanian government ambulance shuttles him from one government-owned hospital to the next. At the first three hospitals, although the doctors determine that he does need surgery, the government bureaucracy refuses to take him in because he is too old and does not have enough money to give baksheesh to the hospital personnel. Mr. Lazarescu stubbornly refuses to give up, but at the fourth hospital, the evil bureaucrats win — he dies after a delayed and botched surgery. (The real Mr. Nica was in fact dumped by an ambulance onto a park bench and left there to die.) Mr. Lazarescu’s real enemy was not his illness, but the uncaring and authoritarian attitude so deeply ingrained in bureaucratic practice. The whole movie is so realistic that even The New York Times — a strong supporter of government-run health care — had to admit that the movie “absorbs you into its world”.

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