Accidents happen. Unfortunately one happened to a child of mine under the watch of an au pair whose redeeming characteristics became harder and harder to appreciate as the weeks of her time with us went by. Rima, the tourism and gastronomy student from Kyrgyzstan whose name still makes us all shudder, was a combination of a lot of negative attributes. She was difficult to communicate with and it wasn’t just because of her low level German or English language skills. After a conversation with her, we never knew if she didn’t understand, if she was offended, if she was OK and in agreement, or what she was going to do. She had a general inability to follow simple direction which resulted in irregular punctuality, disregard for dietary restrictions and preferences, and carelessness and clumsiness (she dinged and scratched our brand new, fancy refrigerator not once but twice), and she had an inability to manage her money (having showed up from Bishkek with too little money, she asked for advances nearly every month. She needed to book her travel tickets to see Rome or Paris so in her words, it was important enough to justify asking for an advance.).
One of the typical hotspots in any political discourse between Americans and Germans is the topic of health care. Europeans firmly believe that a shocking percentage of Americans live without any access to health care, and Americans believe that the socialist Europeans pay their hard-earned cash to cure another (poorer) man’s illness. There is a bit of truth in both views, which is then ballooned by the media until it becomes impossible to understand how one country or the other can possibly survive on their current system.
For the purpose of discussion here, let us first differentiate between health insurance and health care. Health insurance is the system we pay into that should hopefully pay out in the event that we are ill and need financial support for treatment. Health care is the treatment of sick patients. While it is true that large numbers of Americans (about 16% of adults and 9% of children) don’t have health insurance, hospitals across the country offer health care to anyone who comes through their doors – for emergency care. And while Germany has universal health insurance, there are even people here who fall through the cracks and have no coverage. Continue reading
Since coming to Germany as a permanent resident about 3 years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to experience healthcare here in its varied forms. Just so you get a good idea of what I’m talking about I’ll give you a short rundown of healthcare events that have occurred to me and within my family (minus graphic descriptions):
- physical examinations as part of healthcare insurance checks
- joint problems
- infant surgery
- child surgery
If you are looking for me to pass judgement on healthcare here, I can’t fully satisfy you.