By: Mojca Škrinjar
A warmer wind has blown, snowdrops are already turning meadows white, and the coming spring is waking up not only plants, but also turbulent social events. Elections are announced. The election campaign will begin towards the end of March. That is when grinding opinions, persuasion, decisions will really start. And in the end, the calculation of how much money someone spent on a campaign. This week an insurance agent announced to my husband with, supposedly, a great deal. And curiosity drove me from behind the desk to the living room. And I listened. With growing astonishment. After his introduction, I pour water to the younger gentleman with some barely noticeable silver in his chin, he refuses tea or juice, and then to myself to drive away the latent excitement and prepare for argumentative answers.
An additional insurance package is available, to a greater or lesser extent, 16 or 24 euros per month. Because this insurance premium opens all the doors of specialist doctors, he says. No queues. You know, he says, you have to wait months and years for a specialist. I do not know, I told him, the last time I needed a specialist examination at a dermatologist, I got an appointment in three weeks. The insurer replies – yes, you were lucky, but if you needed an orthopaedist, you would see. Maybe, I say, but emergencies are dealt with as quickly as possible, as far as I know.
No, the insurer replies. The queues are terrible because you know how messy our healthcare is. I ask him if he has been following any attempts to improve this situation – advertising more study places for medical studies, stopping the flight of doctors abroad with the possibility of higher salaries, adoption of a law allocating two billion dollars for investments for health.
– Yes, yes, ma’am, he tells me, but that is two hundred million a year in ten years, that is nothing.
– Really??? How much do you think the new infection clinic costs, I ask him. He scratches his shiny beard, well, he answers – I do not know.
– So, if you do not know how much one clinic costs, I go on, how do you know that two billion is not enough for health investments?
– Yeah, because it is. Two hundred million a year is too little to invest in healthcare. But where do we all put the money, in unnecessary things, he continues.
– Like where, for example, I ask him sharper. I am waiting for him to open the left agenda on weapons and bread. He realises that he does not have a free-spirited nod against himself and replies – well, somewhere.
He will not get away that easily, I think. Okay, I smile, but maybe you know how much the state budget is. That is the sum that is used to pay teachers, police officers, customs officers, doctors in hospitals and the like. Silence. Well, do you know? He said naively – I do not know.
Then he starts guessing – maybe 20 billion?
– You know what, sir, we cannot talk like this, I tell him. You do not know how much it costs to build a clinic, but you know it is too little. You do not know what the state budget is, but you know that too much money is spent on all sorts of nonsense, but there is not enough for health care. Well, can you tell me some nonsense?
– Yes, he replies, the National Institute of Public Health has sent a few unnecessary letters to citizens with instructions on how to deal with covid disease, and only in the middle of quarantine. And spent 700,000.00 euros for it, do you even know how much it is, for a completely unnecessary matter? I read it in 24ur.
Really, I asked Uncle Google, letters have been sent out on seven pages giving instructions on how to deal with an infection. But too late when the infected had been in quarantine for several days. I must agree until I get an explanation. Did all the patients receive instructions too late or just a reader found by the 24ur media? Or should NIJZ hire pigeons to take letters to the sick as soon as the test is positive, if the mail cars are already victims of physics, I guess. Maybe the insurer read somewhere else about this incident? He did not? He believes 24ur.com. So, I ask him: whenever you read something in newspapers, portals, on TV, radio, do you believe everything?
– Yeah, he answers, if it was not true, it would not be in the media, right?
– You know what, if your insurance company thinks the same way as you, then I will pay neither 24 nor 16 euros, finally says my husband, who until then silently listened our dialogue. You do not know how much the state budget is, you do not know how much one clinic costs, but you know that two billion euros is not enough. But do you know how much money has been spent in the last decade on building health facilities and homes for the elderly?
“I do not know,” said the insurer, emptying his glass. Here you have the prospectus and my number if you choose. Goodbye!
I walk him to the door and say goodbye.
Well, I say to my husband, did he come to sell an insurance service or is he just one of those three hundred thousand announced activists who will be mumbling after the government’s pre-election measures.
And I was wondering who would fund these activists. Now I know, I am financing this activism myself. Through payment slips for additional insurance and with a state contribution from the insurance company. Well thanks for the violets!
- S.: The fact that instructions for dealing with an infectious disease is necessary to send by (ordinary!) mail is written in the Infectious Diseases Act passed in 1996. At the time of writing this Act, they probably did not count on 23,000 letters a day. But God forbid that such a measure be moved to a decree that could be updated faster than with a lengthy law-making process – the Constitutional Court would have a stroke!
That only someone finds 700,000.00 euros more impressive than 2 billion or 200 million. This is no longer a satire, but a tragedy.
Mojca Škrinjar is a member of the National Assembly, a former director, a state secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, and a member of the SDS.