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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Social security in debate

Some time ago, our national newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws (The Latest News) made an inquiry about how the Fleming thinks about social security.

To its surprise, more than 40% of those interviewed think that social security should not be for everyone. First of all, I need to explain about our system. We all pay for social security. It is automatically withdrawn from our wages, which amount up to 50% of our monthly income. If you have 2,500 Euro in your pocket, you earned about 5,000 in reality. The goverment withdraws taxes and social security. For the rest, we only have to pay some extra 100 Euro to our national health service. This will cover all the costs when you need to go to hospital etc. So you don't really have to pay a lot when visiting a doctor or a dentist; most is covered by social security.

But nowadays people begin to think this is not so evident anymore. A lot of them think that those who deliberately harm their health don't have a right to free services. When you are a heavy smoker and you have a lung disease, you should pay for it completely out of your pocket. Or when you are a heavy drinker and your kidneys don't work properly, it's your own fault and you should pay for it.

Now I can go along these lines. I've known people who had drunk themselves half dead each day and suffered from a bad liver and kidneys. When the doctor told them to stop drinking, they continued and then needed new organs. Well, I would oblige them to pay for those, and then only when those organs were not needed by people who did nothing to suffer from a disease.

But I do think it goes too far when those people interviewed also claim that young people should take precedence when organs become available. If there is a heart, it should go to someone of 30 instead of 60. I can't agree with that (and no, not because I'm in my fifties too). I think this organ should go to the person who has been on the waiting list for the longest time and who is the best match.

What is your take on this?

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