From Iceland — Not Everyone So Crazy About Privatising Health Care

Not Everyone So Crazy About Privatising Health Care

Published July 22, 2015

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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As the Independence Party appears to be supporting greater privatisation of health care, not everyone is on board with the idea.

Stundin reports that voices within and without parliament have pushed back against the idea of moving Iceland’s health care further out of the public sector.

Journalist and writer Illugi Gunnarsson pointed out the logic behind the Independence Party’s suggestion, saying, “It would be possible to laugh at [Independence Party MP] Sigríður Á. Andersen if she wasn’t the new face of the Independence Party, which looks at a patient as a business opportunity.” He adds that Sigríður and others who support privatisation regard the infirmed as “market resources” rather than human beings.

Left-Green MP Svandís Svavarsdóttir pointed out that she brought up the subject of privatisation in health care last February, showing parliament that it would be as expensive if not more so than the public option. She added that she found it “odd that members of the Independence Party would focus on the management of health care and money rather than the contents of health care itself, how we can improve it, and how we can make it more accessible for those who use it.”

As reported, Independence Party MP Sigríður Á. Andersen argued that the current crisis in the health care system could be better dealt with by private firms.

“An increase in private companies in all kinds of health care doesn’t just bring with it an opportunity for doctors but also nurses and other health care workers,” she wrote in a column for Fréttablaðið. “These opportunities outside of the public sector need to increase.”

This is not the first time this idea has been floated in Iceland. In 2013, Minister of Health Kristján Þór Júlíusson – also of the Independence Party – brought the idea up in parliament under the auspices of “privately managed care”, rather than total privatisation. The following year, however, he suggested that private firms could run a new hospital.

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