Written By: - Date published: 1:01 pm, September 13th, 2007 - 3 comments
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cuba2.jpgA reader just sent me a link to a piece in The Guardian entitled: “First world results on a third world budget”.

It’s an investigation of Michael Moore’s claim in his recent documentary, Sicko, that Cuba’s health system puts America’s to shame on just an annual per capita health expenditure of US$260 – less than a 10th of Britain’s US$3,065 and a fraction of America’s US$6,543.

While the article goes to lengths to avoid claiming the Cuban system’s perfect, what seems to be making all the difference is their focus on prevention, led by free access to primary health care.

From promoting exercise, hygiene and regular check-ups, the system is geared towards averting illnesses and treating them before they become advanced and costly… Simple, free access to GPs is a bedrock of healthcare.

Cuban healthcare is no utopia. At times it is ragged and harsh. But the virtues are no myth. People live as long as they do because the system, overall, works.

The article notes that back in the UK there’s an overdue but increasing focus on the importance of primary healthcare. Thankfully it’s a similar story here in New Zealand thanks to some decent investment in the health system over the last eight years – specifically, well over 2 billion into primary healthcare. As a result, on July 1 this year doctor’s fees roughly halved and prescription fees were lowered to $3. The intent was to make access to healthcare cheaper and easier.

It worked for me. I went and had my first general checkup ever as a result of the lowered cost. And it didn’t hurt a bit.

Here’s the full story.

3 comments on “Sicko”

  1. You are joking, surely? Under Labour the health system in NZ is still in chaos and crisis. Labour is as bad at running health as National! This is part of the reason that Labour has lost so much support. The party came to power on a huge campaign to fix the public health but have done very little. We actually need someone like Michael Moore in NZ to do an expose on how Labour and National have totally stuff up public health. Every second day there’s new stories about how bad public health is under Labour. Just a few hours ago, there was this story on the NZ Herald site, entitled: Christchurch Hospital on ‘code red’. See:
    And if you think this is an isolated case of public health system not coping, have a look at heaps more stories about how Labour has stuffed up, here:


  2. all_your_base 2

    Presumably, making sure that people can afford to see a doctor early on, before getting to the stage they need to be rushed to hospital is one way of (eventually) taking some of the pressure off our inevitably limited health resources.

  3. Why not have totally free public health? Why does Labour and The Standard prefer to have a system where you still have to pay to see a doctor? In many other countries there isn’t such a silly system. The UK, for example, has free public health. In the end it’s cheaper for governments to provide good free primary care than to have all these charges. Labour and National (and The Standard?) are still committed to all these crazy market ideas and think that health is not a public service but a commercial commodity. And so I guess that’s why Labour has closed so many public hospitals (even more than National did!) and introduced prescription charges. And it’s interesting that even this idea to have part subsidies of GP visits was started by the National/NZF government. So again it’s in the area of health that Labour and National are pretty much tweedle dee and tweedle dum – and the public lose out.


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