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Agency to cancer patient: When will you die?

26 Feb 2013, 09:34

Published: 26 Feb 2013 09:34 GMT+01:00

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"They basically said that they aren't going to continue to give him sickness benefits because they don't have any proof that he's actually going to die soon," Julia Mjörnstedt, secretary general of cancer patient support group Ung Cancer told the Nyheter24 news website.

Mjörnstedt was contacted on Monday by the distraught 23-year-old who explained that he had been told by doctors that he had only weeks to live and thus wanted to spend his remaining time at home, rather than in hospital.

But caseworkers at Sweden's National Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) interpreted the man's discharge from hospital as a sign that his condition was improving.

"When he tried to renew his application for sickness benefits, they told him that if he can move home then he's not sick enough," Mjörnstedt told the TT news agency.

Mjörnstedt then contacted the agency on the 23-year-old's behalf to contend their decision to deny him benefits.

"Then they said that they needed written proof with a date indicating when he was going to die. It was the strangest thing I'd ever heard. No doctor can write something like that," she told TT.

Following a flurry of media attention on the matter, the agency later apologized, calling the matter a "misunderstanding".

"We are terribly sorry about what happened, but we can't say more out of respect for the family's privacy," Cecilia Udin, the agency's national insurance coordinator, told Nyheter24.

While the agency has since reversed its decision and agreed to grant the 23-year-old sickness benefits, Mjörnstedt remains critical of Sweden's social insurance system which she claims "doesn't work".

Story continues below…

"To continually use 'misunderstanding' as a solution simply hides the symptoms," she said in a statement, adding that attempting to punish a single caseworker or office is akin to "putting a Hello Kitty bandage on a deeply infected wound".

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

10:41 February 26, 2013 by ljonesdontplay
They asked for this proof because they are strapped for cash. Times are tight. Of course, while this was all going down I was being paid by the government to be in a swedish language class with a teacher from Iraq who can't speak at all and 30 others who were in class because they were ALSO being paid and not because they care about swedish. That's just the facts. I like that I could come here to be with my girl so I got no problem but you people should know what's happening with all that tax money when you need it.
11:40 February 26, 2013 by J Jack
Julia Mjörnstedt, my hero. You said it girl!
11:40 February 26, 2013 by what would thomas paine do
"This is not a misunderstanding. FK's cosmetic, it-was-just-a-mistake policy affects thousands of lives. Not just cancer but cardiovascular disease, car accidents, work injuries, etc. The list of victims is long. FK's cynical, despicable employees treat people however they want, and they do without risk of reprisal."

"I'm so tired of agencies that can't do their job and that are just trained to follow some standardized table…"

"All of this is because of people who've fraudulently gotten benefits—those who've scammed the system. And now it affects those who really are in need of assistance…"

- Comments translated from original Swedish-language article:

12:17 February 26, 2013 by Mib
A simple letter from his Doctor to explain the circumstances would have been suffce, which the agency could have fixed by writing to the hospital/doctor requesting the info. But they needn't have a date of when he will die. That is both insensitive and crude.

The comment that it was a misunderstanding is political speak for that they messed up, but no-one will take resonsibility.
18:38 February 27, 2013 by cogito
Here's what's wrong with Swedish healthcare.

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