Mag
Feature
IN THE LAND OF THE BOHEMIANS

IN THE LAND OF THE BOHEMIANS

Published October 8, 2004

There is little here to remind you of Soviet times. Walking through Prague, you feel firmly in the heart of Central Europe. In fact, with the EU constantly expanding, Prague has been mentioned as a potential future capital of the Union, with Brussels moving ever farther away from the centre geographically. Fear of the Russians has been replaced by annoyance with the Americans. About half of them have returned home, no doubt leaving when their parents stopped funding them, but a large number still remain and don´t seem to be doing much in the way of blending in. At the hostel, someone’s drawn an arrow above the toilet pointing down, with a caption reading “Americans.”

The word Bohemian is derived from Bohemia which, along with Moravia, was one of the two ancient provinces of the Czech Republic. The Czechs, led by Jan Huss and other reformers, were prone to rebellion against the pope. During the Hussite wars that followed, the Bohemians prevailed against the papal forces, but were in return branded as heretics and wild rumours circulated about them. Bohemian became an inter-European derogatory term. It was later picked up by the author George Sands and used to describe the lifestyle of the Romantics, giving it its current meaning. Even though the Bohemian movement, centred around Paris, ended with the First World War, the Beats of the 1950s, the hippies of the 1960s and eventually the expats in Prague of the 1990s all drew inspiration from the original Bohemian Romantics.

Prague Castle
In 1618, the Czechs threw emissaries of the Catholic Emperor out the window of Prague Castle. They landed in a pile of manure but survived. The incident helped trigger the 30 Year’s War. The war devastated Bohemia and Morovia along with most of Central Europe. The provinces remained Roman Catholic and lost their taste for rebellion. The castle is also where the crown of the Czech republic is kept. Legend has it that whoever dons the crown without being the rightful king of the Czechs will soon die. Apparently, the last man to attempt this was arch Nazi Reinhard Heydrich. He was gunned down on the street by Czech partisans 14 days later. The reprisals were terrible but fortunately, Prague castle still stands and can be visited.


Mag
Feature
Squeezing Blood From A Turnip: Iceland’s Universal Healthcare At Risk

Squeezing Blood From A Turnip: Iceland’s Universal Healthcare At Risk

by

In a small and private ceremony in a chapel in Fossvogur, around 30 friends and family members are present to pay their respects to 50-year-old Rósa Mikaelsdóttir, a single mother of three who passed away on November 17. Rósa had struggled with mental disorders for most of her life—in particular severe anxiety and depression—and, following the 2008 banking crisis, had a hard time making ends meet on her disability allowance. After the ceremony, I speak with her family. They tell me that Rósa barely managed to keep a roof over her head in recent years, and that she often couldn’t

Mag
Feature
May Day Mayday: Iceland’s Ongoing Doctor Strike

May Day Mayday: Iceland’s Ongoing Doctor Strike

by

Following a round of unsuccessful negotiations, doctors in Iceland commenced their first ever strike in late October. In the wake of the banking crisis, so as to share the burden, doctors not only accepted a 5% wage cut, but also ceased seeking pay raises with as much fervour as before. As a result, their wages now lag far behind other public sector professions and the consumer price index. Compensation in the Icelandic healthcare sector is no longer competitive with those in our neighbouring countries, both in terms of salaries and holiday allowances. Now that the economy is purportedly in better

Mag
Feature
Iceland’s University Hospital: The Director Speaks

Iceland’s University Hospital: The Director Speaks

by

Throughout the whole healthcare debacle, one man has consistently remained focused on the big picture:the National University Hospital of Iceland (LSH) director Dr. Páll Matthíasson, PhD. Educated as a psychiatrist, Páll worked in London, England, from 1997-2007 before returning to Iceland, where he served as a senior physician before becoming the Chief Psychiatry Executive at LSH in 2009—and director at the end of 2013. Despite the tremendous pressure he faces with the ongoing strike, Páll still finds time to sit down with me in his office to discuss LSH and the future of medicine in Iceland. “Off the cliff” Up

Mag
Feature
Down To The Bone: The Healthcare System, Post-Austerity

Down To The Bone: The Healthcare System, Post-Austerity

by

Following the economic collapse of 2008, the Icelandic State’s debts skyrocketed, reaching 126% of the country’s GDP in 2011. At the same time, State revenue sources ground to a halt, and property devalued. The consumer price index shows price levels on consumer goods increased by a whopping 18.6% from 2008 to 2009, and strict capital controls were put in place to stop funds from funnelling out of the country. In a desperate attempt to avoid national bankruptcy, the State underwent hefty austerity measures, and called in the IMF. Although these facts are readily available, a myth persists to this day

Mag
Feature
Prescribing Trouble: Iceland’s Social Insurance Explained

Prescribing Trouble: Iceland’s Social Insurance Explained

by

Prescription drugs used to be either completely, partially or not at all covered by the insurance system, sometimes arbitrarily. On May 4, 2013, a new system was implemented, which was meant to be simpler and more just than the old one. The new arrangement entails three payment steps, where patients must progress from paying the full price of medication, to 15% and then 7.5%. Once the total costs reach a certain cap, patients can request a medical exemption licence that sees their medication fully subsidized. The system resets every year, making patients go through the three steps again. Medical professionals

Mag
Feature
Iceland’s Healthcare System: How Does It Work?

Iceland’s Healthcare System: How Does It Work?

by

Iceland maintains a universal healthcare system, under which all legal residents are covered by the Icelandic social insurance system. All hospital admissions are paid for by this system, as is the majority of the cost of outpatient appointments. There is a token fee to see General Practitioners (GPs) and specialists, with fees for the latter considerably higher, particularly after the economic collapse of 2008. Iceland’s primary healthcare is split up into hospitals, health institutions and healthcare clinics. There are two hospitals, Landspítalinn, the National University Hospital of Iceland (hereafter referred to as LSH), which is located in Reykjavík and serves

Show Me More!