Much of what I read these days in the US newspapers makes it seem as if adopting a universal health system is going to lower standards medical services. It is as if Mr. Obama is trying to flog off something inferior. It doesn’t have to be so. Having friends and family scattered all over, we’ve shared many stories about in ins-and-outs of our countries medical systems. What these discussions made me realise is that, even though many Germans complain about their social medical system (national favourite pastime), and there are many things that could be improved, and many indications that services will get worse, overall, we have it good.
I can say this because the system here tries to keep some things that traditionally were good (e.g. having the same family doctor for 20 years), as well as implement some things that are new (e.g. alternative medicines). All the while, they offer everything from preventative medicine to emergency care for everyone living in Germany.
The title of this post “What has social medicine ever done for me?” comes from a conversation I had recently with an acquaintance, who was complaining about having to pay for a selective preventative procedure at her gynaecologist. As a response to her, and hopefully of interest to you, here is a list of a handful of situations that highlight what the social medical system has done for me or my family over the years:
- We have had the same family doctor since we moved into our present apartment for the last 15 years. If, as has occasionally been the case, one of us is too ill to come to her office, she makes house calls.
- At all births, even in hospitals, a midwife as well as a doctor is present. Midwives are there to assist you through the labour and birth in a way that doctors can not.
- During my second pregnancy, I experienced early labour pains as of six months. I had to say at home in bed the last trimester. The medical insurance paid my salary after the initial six weeks of being on sick leave.
- After my children were born and after we went home, my medical insurance paid a midwife to come for a daily visit for ten days. They also paid for a friend to clean my house daily for two weeks since I had to (unfortunately) have caesareans both times.
- They paid for both my children’s orthodontist costs when they needed braces and my son's dental surgery.
- They paid for taxi costs when I had to come into physio therapy after some surgery.
- When my daughter became lacto-intolerant as a young child, they paid for homeopathic therapy.
- I’m not sure who pays for what (i.e. employer, medical insurance, and social services), but for 6 weeks before estimate date of birth, during your stay in hospital, and 3 months after your baby is born, you get 100% of your salary, (You also get partial payment for up to 1 ½ years and job security for up to 3 years maternity leave, but that has nothing to do with the medical insurance).
- For the last 12 years, I have been a part of a preventive breast cancer program receiving mammogram and ultrasound examinations for free since my mother had breast cancer.
- The insurance company pays for part of my glasses and hearing aids costs. There are glasses and hearing aids available at the prices they pay me, but they look somewhat gorky, so I choose to buy more modish expensive ones.
- They pay for annual and semi-anual check ups to the gynaecologist, ERN, cardiologist, internal medicine, dermatologist, and dentist.
Well, I was hoping to come up with ten examples and I came up with eleven, so I guess I’ll stop while I am ahead.