The text has been translated and changed some, compared to the original letter in Norwegian.
My status and reason for writing this letter:
I have been hard of hearing all my life, and at the same time I have been working like everybody else at 100% in the IT-industry for as long as I could. Never learned sign-language. I am now deaf and I am not able to work. I wait for a bilateral CI-operation.
My general health is very much influenced by tinnitus and hyperacusis. It means I can’t stand certain sounds or loud sound. This phenomenon is examined closer in the article ”Recruitment”.
There are significant mental health aspects to my condition too, and that also affects everybody close to me.
It has been a several year long process to acknowledge the fact that I am now deaf. In this process I have made many experiences with “including work life” (aka link to NAV about IA (norwegian), follow this link for more information in English.), NAV and the healthcare system. Some positive, of course…
Where I am today
Despite a strong inner will, and a desire to be part of the working life I am hindered by the fact that I have to wait for the CI-operations that can give back my ability to function in everyday life again. I have IT-skills that are extremely sought for in the IT-industry today. I would be hired “on-the-spot” by one of the largest telecom-companies in the world; Telenor, to work with projects in the top management group for the Norwegian Business Division. It is a frustrating place to be right now, waiting for those CI’s.
My main point:
We have a serious socioeconomic flaw in our bureaucratic systems in Norway in 2008. Work disabled individuals like me, do not get adequate medical treatment that ensures our society continued productivity from same individual. I use myself as an example:
I have carefully estimated and crudely calculated that I cost the welfare-system 27.000 Norwegian kroner (NOK) per month in lost taxes and for welfare benefits received. I am not including various courses/programs that I participate in, psychologist or secondary health-costs in this calculation. (which, of course, also adds to the total costs.)
Within one year I cost the society as much as a CI-operation on one ear (300.000 NOK) Within one year and six months I cost the society as much as a simultaneous CI-operation on both my ears. (500.000 NOK).
3 months of extra waiting caused by a simple error in the bureaucratic health care system cost the society 81.000 NOK unnecessary, just because my physician failed to send my letter of recommendation for CI-surgery to the right instance the first time!
The real life results of today’s politics
I watched the process with cutbacks at Rikshopitalet recently with disbelief. I was interviewed at the Norwegian National TV, NRK about this. Video from that interview with english captions can be seen here. Nobody wants it to be like this, yet it still happens.
Savings and cutbacks in the health care system are carried out relentlessly, and in my isolated case it gives the welfare system even greater expenses! The costs of waiting for the medical treatment is now higher than the treatment in itself. What do our society save by cutting costs at Rikshospitalet? In my case; nothing! It costs MORE money!!!!
There is no logic connection between Welfare and Health in Norway as far as my case is concerned. Where is the connection that obviously should have been there? The money would be more useful in the health care system, both economically and socially, the way I see it.
On top of this come the human costs with me not working for a longer period and statistically that means it will be increasingly difficult to get back to a working life the longer time goes by. More expenses caused by delayed medical treatment.
”Faster back” and Rikshospitalet
I am aware that Stortinget (that’s the Norwegian Parliament) in their proposition called ”St.prp. nr. 1 Tillegg nr. 4 (2006-2007)” passed as a legislation stating that a total funding of 604 million NOK to be allotted to ”Faster back” in 2007 and that the foundations work and funding has expanded in 2008.
This kind of funding is a start and need to continue and also receive additional increase in funding in the years to come. Good!
I have certain hopes to make use of the foundations resources as I do qualify in all it’s intentions. It is a bit uncertain since my application to the CI-surgeries through my physician came before this foundation came to practical life. It’s “supposed” to be applied on by my physician, which I will ASAP. I have made queries by way of several parties in order to look into this opportunity. I can only wait for the outcome of those queries…
Lack of information…
I have visited Rikshospitalet (the office for patient-coordinator for the CI-surgeries) about this arrangement (”Faster back”) about the possibilities for me applying for funds from this foundation. They do not reply in writing, and on questions about what is happening, they state that ”your file is up for review” whatever that means… It has been “up” for the last 4 months… In the meantime I have cost the Norwegian welfare system additional 108.000 NOK. And the “taximeter” is still running as I write this….
I recently received information from an employee in the Norwegian
welfare-system (NAV) who is operating out of a department called NAV SYA Hørselsteamet (Centre for Occupational/work life Rehabilitation, team for hearing related cases.). It seem like Rikshospitalet probably has yet to “connect” to this foundation!!! (they’re not using any of it’s resources)
Haukeland (the premier hospital in western Norway, located in Bergen) is hooked up to the foundation, and they are CI-operating fast! Haukeland helps Rikshospitalet with the queue of patients waiting for CI. People are gladly going to Bergen for CI.
I’d like to take opportunity of this chance for a faster solution, but because Rikshospitalet offer, to me, a superior and more technically advanced implant (the HiRes90K made by Advanced Bionics) I can not accept Haukelands services. (I’m probably going to live with this implant for the rest of my life).
What is the difference between Rikshospitalet and Haukeland? What is the board at Rikshospitalet doing? How can we, as a nation, allow Rikshospitalet to decide to have cutbacks on, among other things, the Otolaryngology department when the welfare-system have to pick up the tab? In the situation that has developed, I have a feeling that the CI-patients are being held as hostages in a political play. Nobody wants it to be like that? It is counterproductive!
My suggestions for ”Faster back”:
I have a theory that if I had a proof of financial funding from NAV/”Faster back” for the CI-surgeries for both my ears, I could have been back as a taxpayer much faster. Either by operating abroad (among other England, the USA and Sweden has open slots for CI-surgeries), or if Rikshospitalet viewed me as a source of income rather than as a post of expenses that needed saving by way of cutbacks in the CI-team in the Otolaryngology department.
With a ”money-follows-the-patient” system I think that it could be easier for the government to coordinate and control the health system. If the end-result would be that it makes it cheaper for the society as a whole, who would protest against it? The controlling of the healthcare system could be done by the government stating/changing (as needed) the fixed prices for certain medical treatments and hence stimulate the hospitals to increase the production by further incentives.
It is time to get rid of the bureaucratic anachronisms in the Norwegian healthcare system that rule today with such terribly bad results!
My suggestions to the Norwegian Treasury Department:
Establish a link between the welfare system and the healthcare system.
Let the money follow the patients after a total assessment of what it costs to have someone waiting, as opposed to be medically treated right away, has been made.
Instate a commission whose task is to analyze the problems I have stated in this brief. The commission can suggest practical measures and come up with political, economic, bureaucratic, and general recommendations for the various professions involved in named process. The goal for the committee should be to implement measures to minimize the use of our society’s economic resources.
Experiences regarding welfare and Included Work life (aka Inkludert Arbeidsliv (IA))
Some benefit programs (for instance occupation rehabilitation (aka work training)) reduce the benefit equally to whatever the benefited person might want to or be able to earn an extra wage individually. This practice reduces independent initiative and entrepreneurship the benefited might possess on their own. There is, in my experience, no economic stimulus for keep trying even though ability to work is reduced, and one is forced to apply for benefit programs. No wonder many feel disheartened and hopeless and feel compelled to resign to the benefit-programs.
One exception is when people are on a temporary disability program. After one year on this program, I am allowed to earn 1G (a “G” is number set by the Norwegian government (I think) for the bureaucratic systems to base most of their calculations on).
This is a good incentive, because I would be able to work a little bit on my own (based on the shape I’m in from day to day).
This extra income will also reduce the society’s expenses on the benefited (tax income!). It is a win-win-situation. Maybe a change in most (all?) benefit programs that would allow anyone to earn a little extra could be a weapon against the problem of poverty too? (yes we have poverty in Norway in 2008 too!!!)
There are many rules and official regulations that make it hard to be enrolled in an occupational rehabilitation programme which needs to be less than 50%.