Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bribing Doctors to Abandon the Poor

Do I have this right?  The New York Times has an article today about the Cuban medical mission in Haiti.  After describing the modest perks doctors get for signing up, it says:
They are not allowed to bring their families with them, but the other incentives make it “a pretty good deal,” she [Katrin Hansing, a Baruch College professor] said, that has helped keep down defections. Still, a program the United States has run since 2006 that is tailored to attract Cuban medical professionals abroad has enticed several hundred to defect.  
Does the US really have a program to bribe Cuban doctors who are serving the poorest and most at risk populations in the world to quit, emigrate, and join the dysfunctional American medical establishment?  Is this cynical or what?

If the article is saying what I think it says, I have even more respect for the Cuban medical authorities, who continue their life-giving services abroad even though they lose many of their best and brightest in the process.


Godfree Roberts said...

I hope someone more knowledgeable than I can verify this but I ran some numbers which suggest that our bribery has succeeded with 1-2% of Cuban doctors.

If that's even remotely accurate then it's a much bigger story the the NYT's.

Will said...

I have always thought that there was a lot of potential moral hazard in Cuba's free medical training. Even so, this program surely counts as the Cuban government's greatest accomplishment, and it is truly distasteful for our country to use that angle to target them.