It’s pretty obvious, when coming from the USA, that our healthcare system has some problems. I personally had gone long periods during my child/young adulthood without insurance at all. Insurance in the USA is either expensive, low coverage, or both. So, that leaves the question; is healthcare in Germany really that much better? And the answer is a resounding “Yes!”.
I find that the nature of insurance in Germany has found a nice middle ground between completely a socialized single payer system and a system like we have in the states. In Germany, you still have to pay for insurance. It is not free unless you’re impoverished, elderly, or disabled and cannot work. It has more to do with how much you pay that is the draw. In the USA, I have had insurance plans that cost $200+ per month yet only cover 40-50% of medical expenses. That, to me, is ridiculous, and it has led to so many people being reluctant or just refusing to go to the doctor. In Germany, However, you if you’re a student you pay 90 EURO a month and that is it. It covers your doctor’s visits, eye exams, ear nose and throat doctor, dental care, et.c. et.c.. If you have any kind of health issues, it’s covered no questions asked. You don’t have to try to calculate if you can afford the co-pay. You don’t have to worry about taking an emergency ride in an ambulance. It takes the stress out of that which is already so stressful. The only thing that you are ever required to pay for are some prescriptions and elective procedures.
While it might seem obvious that I prefer the German system, there are just a couple of draw-backs. The first is that healthcare workers make much less money. While this doesn’t automatically seem like such a terrible thing, because doctors make so much in the USA, it when when you realize how much of a price cut doctors take to work in Germany. My doctor told me that after taxes he makes 60,000 EURO per year after taxes. You can almost make that much managing a fast food Restaurant. As a result of this, Germany has a hard time keeping their doctors from moving out of the country to work. After all, if you could make 4 to 5 times as much with the same set of skills just for working in another country, why wouldn’t you?
The second drawback is their policy with medications. This one is sort of a grey area, because at the end of the day it helps more people than it hurts. In Germany they will exhaust every other option before giving you anything stronger than an over the counter pain killer. For example, I just got my wisdom teeth removed. My friends back home have gotten strong pain killers, but for me, the dentist gave me three tablets of ibuprofen after my wisdom teeth were extracted. It was totally insufficient, if you ask me. I was in so much pain for 3 days. I could hardly eat. This downside also results in Germany having less issues with prescription drug abuse though, so overall it is probably a good thing. I just found it supremely annoying for those few days.