German Healthcare

Still Walkin' by Jan Curran

Germany has an excellent healthcare system. It is a single payer system in that all taxpayers contribute to a federal fund which then doles out money to various national insurance exchanges which at the moment number about 180. These exchanges provide health insurance to members according to their jobs or professions: autoworkers belong to one, steel workers to another, office workers to another etc. It is not mandatory to belong to an exchange if one earns in excess of about $6500 monthly. Many business people, for example, are either self or privately insured . If Obama was really interested in health care insurance he should have taken a very close look at Germany’s system. Its physicians and facilities are in most cases world class, one with which I am personally familiar is superior to the NCH. However even the Germans have problems making ends meet. The states of Hessen , Baden Wurttemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz, (These equate to Florida or Georgia) are experiencing labor problems. On Tuesday, 15,000 clinical physicians in 200 facilities went on open ended strike, (there are 700 of these hospitals nationally). The problem is sure to grow. Money is the issue. Hospital physicians are government employees. They have their own union (Marburger Bund) which negotiates salary and benefit contracts with the hospital associations. Wage increases and compensation for night and emergency service are the issue. Consequently, many operations and other procedures are being curtailed or postponed. Waiting times are lengthening and some grumbling is sure to result. Emergency operations, however, remain unaffected. USA take notice.

Jan D. Curran
Naples & Neuberg, Germany

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