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Brazilian Bureacracy: Two sides of the same groin

April 23rd, 2009

A simple visit to a health clinic for an ultrasound scan provided an object lesson in the famed sluggishness and painstaking nature of Brazilian bureaucracy.

Photo: turtlephotography, flickr

Photo: turtlephotography, flickr

“Doctor will only scan the right side of the groin unless you provide us with a code for the left side as well,” the receptionist insisted to my medical insurance company on Thursday.

For patients used to the British National Health Service (NHS) and all its supposed failings, the Brazilian private sector, for those lucky enough to able to afford it, can be quite an opener too.

I sit there for nigh-on forty minutes, as the receptionist and the health insurance provider battle it out in call after call.

“The groin counts as one area, so you only need one code,” the health insurance operator told me on the phone, on one of the occasions,  I’m dragged into the row.

By the way, I’m there being tested for a suspected hernia.

All this to-ing and fro-ing with them in this verbal game of tennis and fretting about whether I’ll end up stumping up the cost myself is enough to leave my inner workings down below in a permanent twisted state.

Finally, we have a winner.

After yet another consultation with the doctor, the receptionist — who by now feels like my lawyer — gets her way — and the code– and I’m in and out of the ultrasound in a flash.

The scan was scheduled for 7:40am [NHS please note] and I’m back out into the world outside by 9:30 am, with once again Brazilian bureaucracy triumphant!

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Passengers leaving from Brazil get cheaper airfares boost

April 23rd, 2009

Photo: J & J, flickr

Photo: J & J, flickr

Greater competition between airlines flying from Brazil is on the way, after the country’s civil aviation authority (ANAC) approved a move to ditch minimum airfares.

Until now the cost of tickets for passengers leaving Brazil had to meet minimum price criteria, but this will be phased out gradually within 12 months.

From this week, airlines should be able to cut prices by 20%.

After three months the discount allowed will be 50%, another three months later, this will rise to 80% and at the end of twelve months minimum prices will disappear.

Last year, ANAC adopted a similar move for flights from Brazil to South America, which was completed on September 1 last year.

Prices of domestic flights were deregulated in 2005.

Although airlines are not obliged to cut prices, officials expect consumers will benefit from promotions, especially in periods of low demand.

Before the new rules came into force, the minimum cost of a flight to the United States was $708, the United Kingdom $869, Bahrain $1,267 and Japan $2,046.

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