Monday, August 03, 2009

I love Socialism!!

It seems like the buzz word on the lips of all the Republicans in the United States nowadays is about what a "socialist" President Obama is and how the evil Democrats want to take everything away from the rich people and give it to people who don't earn their keep and bla bla bla cry cry cry. It's a bunch of annoying bellyaching in my humble opinion. The hot topic at the moment is Obama's goal of instituting a national health care plan and, oh my God!!! What a socialist thing that would be! "A national health care system is something for whimpy Europeans!" they say. "We should be able to choose what kind of care we want and pay for it if we want." It would destroy the great expensive American health care system, and America has the best health care system in the world! We don't want to destroy that! I disagree. Tear down this system that doesn't work and leaves people out in the cold and build a new one from the ground up!

Apparently President Obama's plan would not involve instituting a plan to cover everyone, but a plan to make health care at least accessible to people who don't have it provided by their employers. This is a whole lot of people who work in capacities other than regular old full-time jobs, and a lot of people who are being laid off, fired or otherwise having their work or benefits reduced in these hard times. So there would at least be a reasonable, affordable option for people who don't have health insurance as part of their benefits package from their job, but people would also (maybe) have the option of choosing public or private plans, hopefully resulting in some competition on the otherwise ridiculously competition-free market of American health care. American health care is crazily overpriced. Even if you have "good" insurance as I did, you still pay an arm and a leg for things that are really not that involved or expensive in reality. My "benefits statement" from my health insurance in America quoted a price of over $500 for a prenatal doctor's visit that lasted maybe 20 minutes including an ultrasound. I had to pay about $50 out of pocket for that, which is still too much in my opinion. My direct comparison for this is my experience in Germany, when I was pregnant with Wilhelm in 2006. Exactly the same appointment cost about €50 in total, and the doctor listened to me and treated me like a human, not just scribbling stuff in my chart. And my insurance paid 100%. Another interesting fact: my American insurance supposedly cost my employer about $12,000 a year. My last insurance in Germany cost me not even €2,000 per year, including vision, dental and medical insurance, and 100% coverage, no ifs ands or buts, no fine print, no funny business, no runaround claims or pre-approved ambulances or any of that B.S. No insurance companies are going broke in Germany, nobody is declaring personal bankruptcy because they can't pay their medical bills. How can this be?

I had an amazing experience today. Since I am currently pregnant with number 2 and we just returned, we had to get our insurance situation straightened out before I went to the doctor. Not that I was particularly worried about the doctor's bills, we entered into this move with the knowledge that should we not get coverage, we can pay the bills out of pocket and still come out ahead of where we would have been in the United States. Anyway, we went to the (in the Republican's eyes) "socialist" health care company, got signed up for family insurance, and are all set. No problem. The pregnancy is covered, we are all covered, and will not see a single medical bill. Incredible! Is this socialism? Ha! It's a system that works, call it what you like. You pay into the system via deductions from your paycheck and are just covered. If you want, and you satisfy the income requirements, or are self-employed, you can opt out of the public system and insure yourself privately if that makes you feel better. That's where competition comes in. Private insurance pays the doctors more than the public insurance, and might pay for some additional treatments or a private room in a hospital, but by no means are publicly insured people being shortchanged. I was previously privately insured, and got great treatment, but Wilhelm was always on the public insurance and got the exceptional treatment that he really needed with his hard start in the world, including tons of tests and physical therapy, the whole nine yards. And we never paid a cent out of pocket, it was all covered! No one gets sent away from the hospital, no one can be denied care. I don't know what some people in America think, but here's a pretty good example: in Michigan when I was at my first prenatal appointment with baby 2 I asked about travelling during pregnancy because we have a wedding coming up in the German family in September. The nurse looked at me as if I had lost my mind, and informed me that they recommend that pregnant women not travel outside of their home state after the 25th week of pregnancy. Then she asked, "And who knows if a hospital in Germany would even admit you if you went into labor while you were there!" I looked at her and said, "I'm really not concerned about that. I could go to any hospital I want and pay for the birth out of pocket if I had to. Unlike here." I quoted some prices and told about some treatments I had had (acupuncture during pregnancy!) in Germany, and she was stunned.

In other news, I visited the doctor today to check on number 2. He was stunned that up to this point I had only had one ultrasound so far during this pregnancy. I am stunned as well, considering that I was receiving care in the country with the best health care system in the world, and the ultrasound machine was always just standing there in the corner, unused. Must not have been covered by my "great" insurance. But anyway, we got a look at the kid today, all is well, he or she all one piece and seems fine.

And this is why I love socialism, at least with the meaning that Americans throw the silly word around.


Anonymous said...

I wished you would reconsider your opinion on the advantages of a socialist health care system. I do not know what the Republicans cited by you understand by the term “sozialism”, but I know the care system established in the industrially most advanced socialistic country, the German Democratic Republic. Its health care system was unable to offer adequate medical treatments or medicaments known in the medical practice since 10 or 20 years. The hospitals was in a disastrous condition; at least twelve patients had to sleep in the same room; the number of caregivers were small. A patient needed personal protection by a chief medical officer to get a place in a hospital for a simple treatment like replacing a hip joint. Should a patient needed a more complex treatment because he suffered from cancer, a treatment was only possible if the patient himself was able to get the required medicaments for example from West Germany. Even this socialist system was not open for all residents. A number of 60.000 unemployed people (the most of them were released political prisoners) did not have any health insurance. So you needed two things to get an adequate medical treatment: first, one of your relative should be director of a university hospital and, secondly, you should be able to buy the medicaments in West Germany either because you have there further relatives or because you are member of at least the county administration of the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschland. If you fulfilled these requirements, I understood why you love socialism.

Remember White Rabbit said...

Thank you for your comment! My very loose use of the term socialism in this post is not at all related to the DDR medical system. In no way would I love that kind of socialism, and I would certainly not want to live under that system, nor do I want to patronize anyone who lived and suffered under that system, as I know many did. I was ironically referring to socialism by using the term the way the American Republicans use it, which is entirely false. They call the current German public health care system socialist, which I don't believe it is. Socialism is a buzz word used in American politics at present and signifies great evil, but rarely is it used with its correct meaning.

Vanessa said...

I understood your point, Remember White Rabbit and - ironically - Anonymous only serves to strengthen it. The socialism he/she describes is irrational and unfair. What is being proposed by the Obama administration is NOT socialism.
I'm also in the same boat you describe while being here in the US. With my very, very expensive private insurance, I have a mandatory $300 deductible. I got an e. Coli infection and I had to pay the ENTIRE doctor visit ($110) out of pocket. Even once the deductible is fully satisfied, they only cover 70% to 90% depending upon whether a physician is 'in network.'
And don't even get me started on the list of things they simply will not cover (my TMJ being one of them). Anyway, thanks for sharing!
I agree! Vanessa