Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

March 16, 2005

Free Health Care in Cuba

Filed under: — Different River @ 10:16 pm

(Welcome, Grand Rounds XXVI readers!
See also this post on Misdiagnosis of Persistent Vegetative State.)

Cuba may have problems, they say, and Fidel Castro may be a dictator, but at least Cuba has excellent, free health care available to everybody. Or so they say. Here is a sample of these claims.

From “The Cuban Experience”:

The Cuban health care system is respected around the world, and is literally decades more advanced than any system found in Latin America. For this reason, the Cuban system serves as a model for Third World developing nations.

Before the Revolution, most people could not afford proper medical care. In the rural areas there were few doctors and in the big cities, only the upper classes could afford health care.

All of this has now changed.

And from an advertisement for a lecture in San Francisco, promoting a bill to make California’s health care as good as Cuba’s:

  • Cubans have universal access to free health care (provided by the government).
  • Althrough [sic] Cuba is a developing country, Cubans live as long or longer than Americans
  • Cuban babies survive as well as American babies
  • Cuba spends half of much on health care, (as a percentage of its GNP), as the US, but provides health care to all its citizens
  • “Health Tourists” go to Cuba from other countries for medical treatments because of Cuba’s high quality, low cost health care.

No one should believe these claims, because Communist countries never provide better services than free countries (except maybe for alcohol), and they notoriously lie about their achievement on all fronts, especially economic and scientific. But lots of people believe this stuff about Cuba anyway. I wish I knew why.

As a technical matter, the health care in Cuba isn’t free; there is a 12% payroll tax all Cubans pay. (This is similar to what is being proposed for California.) But that really is only the beginning of what’s false in the above statement, particularly the “decades more advanced” claim.

Here are some pictures from the Hospital Clínico Quirúrgico Joaquin Albarran in Havana, which Fidel Castro called “one of the most modern and best ones in the country” — which for Cuba might be true, but which undermines all the grandiose claims for it.

Go to that link to see all the pictures, but here are a few to get your started:

Toilet in Cuban hospital Patient beds Cockroaches on floor in patient area

If you read Spanish, there’s an extensive article here.

(Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters.)

UPDATE: There’s another excellent article on this topic here.

One Response to “Free Health Care in Cuba”

  1. Babalu Blog Says:

    fidel, can you say “blogs”?
    It’s no wonder why fidel castro limits and sometimes forbids his people from using the internet. The only way he can stay in power is through the ignorance of his people to what the outside world really is. The more…

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