Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Prescription for change

Be careful of what you wish for. I urged the government to bust a gut and get cracking. The good news is they did. The bad news is that it has been a disaster.

The new year brought with it joy for all (I'm sure) but also far-reaching changes to the way the government refunds prescription drugs. Doctors are now obliged to say which drugs are refunded and by how much. If a patient turns out not to have public health coverage, then the doctors are liable.

Doctors are not happy about bearing responsibility for what appears to be a bureaucratic decision. Instead of saying how much a prescription should be refunded, they are stamping them with a statement that the decision is up to the National Health Fund (NFZ).

So, a poor patient gets the prescription for some life-saving drug, gets the NFZ stamped version and goes to the pharmacy. The pharmacist doesn't know whether any refund will be honoured with such a stamp since it technically violates the law. Some pharmacists are thus refusing to give any refund in case they are liable one day.

Leaving aside controversial changes to the prescription drug refund list, the above basically sums up the problem. As always, who gets screwed in the end? We patients.

How do you know something in Poland is important? Prime Minister Donald Tusk holds a press conference.

Tusk met doctors on Wednesday and later announced that room for a compromise existed. Though he was sure to blame the whole mess on doctors, noting there would be no problemo if doctors had followed the law, he said he would work toward suspending any potential fines for drug refunds until a national insurance system was up and running. . .

. . . Erm, wait. There's no such system already? You wanted doctors to vouch for a patients' insurance coverage even though there's no national registry or easily searchable database. Hmmm. Maybe this could have been done first.

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