Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The worth of social welfare

20060623_hopitalsteelisabethAfter a hectic period I am back online and catching up on my projects. A couple of weeks ago my Mum had a serious health problem and was admitted to a Brussels hospital. So that's were part of my focus has been and I must say how impressed I am at the challenges of managing such public health facilities. It must be a huge endeavour and I can tell you it is priceless to feel confident that the health system is good enough, passionate enough, serious enough to help someone you care for recover. That prompted me to think about the worth of European social welfare systems. By and large, their contribution is unaccounted for in traditional metrics of wealth. This is not about how many Euros of turnover a hospital is making; it is about how much well-being it provides to people regardless of their ability to pay for the medical services or not.  It is about the relative peace of mind it provides to the relatives of those who are ill when they have to be working while their loved ones are being taken care of. These things are priceless. Now the question begs: how do we keep financing that in the current economic context with the present state of public finances? What's the real worth of existing social welfare systems and how should it be measured? These may be questions worth answering before trying to bring all those systems under the fold of the private sector. The examples of the UK and the US is worth studying too... Places where a citizen has a right to remain in good health that is proportionate to their monetary net worth. Food for thought.


  1. Welcome back on-line, Alex, the internet was kind of empty these past days ;-)
    Your post reminds me of an interesting article in HBR, talking about innovation and healthcare. This is a field where change is fast on some aspects (new technologies constantly introduced) and slow on others (yes, the patient is also a person and nope, the hospital needs not to look like a prison).
    Anyway, I hope you mom is sound and safe. All the best.

  2. Salut Alex,
    Hope your mum is recovering well ! And hope to get back in touch (as we're moving back to Belgium in September).
    Take care my friend