Thursday, July 3, 2008
National Public Radio has a brief overview of German health care. It is quite an interesting piece and shows the importance of access to health care and also how differently the government role in providing or financing or regulating health care can be. You can listen to the piece here. Here is the write-up:
Mention European health care to an American, and it probably conjures up a negative stereotype — high taxes, long waiting lines, rationed care. It's not that way in Germany. Very little tax money goes into the system. The lion's share comes, as in America, from premiums paid by workers and employers to insurance companies.
German health benefits are very generous. And there's usually little or no wait to get elective surgery or diagnostic tests, such as MRIs. It's one of the world's best health care systems, visible in little ways that most Germans take for granted. . . .
Germans really hate any hint of unfairness in health care. The fundamental idea is that everybody must be covered and, preferably, everybody should get equal treatment. So the fact that 10 percent or so can buy some perks is an irritant — something Germans complain about but manage to put up with.
But it's unthinkable that 48 million people wouldn't have health insurance at all — the situation in America. As an American, Chris thinks that's shameful. "It's terrible," he says. "It's unbelievable. It shouldn't happen."
Germans, he says, would never tolerate that. And their system has been working pretty well for 125 years.