Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Among the healthiest people in the world

The May 9th Wall Street Journal [subscription required] features a front-page article that illustrates some of the adverse financial, productivity, and social implications that arise from lax disability certification rules and inadequate standards of approval for disability insurance benefits. The article focuses on Sweden, where benefits for disability are insured by the Swedish government. Sweden is clearly in a corner and must now reduce or withdraw benefits that the people have naturally come to believe they are entitled to have. This won't be easy:

At a time when low-cost competition from Asia is clobbering Europe’s markets and straining its generous welfare states, governments from Finland to Portugal are trying to cut back and get more people to work.”

Work? B-b-b-b-but isn’t health care a right? Why should Swedes (or anyone else) have to work for their rights? How can anything be a right if you have to work for it? Say it ain’t so, Lars!

Two other statements in the article caught my eye. First this:

Swedes are among the healthiest in the world, according to the World Health Organization. And yet 13% of working-age Swedes live on some type of disability benefit – the highest proportion on the globe.”

Seems a reassessment is in order. Meanwhile WHO looks ridiculous.

And near the end of the article, where so often one can find the truly interesting facts of a story . . .

Everyone who said they were sick was getting money. We didn’t demand anything’ said Ingrid Nilsson, the local agency’s director. ‘I guess that was the wrong thing to do."

Gee, ya think?

Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode when George was fired for a certain kind of after-hours misconduct atop his supervisor's desk, and then plaintively asked “Was that wrong? Was that wrong? No one told me that was wrong.”

So yeah, Ingrid, that was the wrong thing to do.

The Journal continues to report facts that individuals committed to the notion of government control of the health care and health insurance systems like to disparage or ignore.

Unfortunately the Journal's reporting reflects reality, which we ignore at our peril.

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