Mama State30 Jul 2001
It's good to hear that Garret is healthy, but it was expensive for him to find out and now he needs to rethink his health insurance. Al says everyone should think about it. Here in Germany, of course, Mama State makes sure everyone has health insurance. The public system is financed similary to social security. Workers pay 13 to 14% of their pay (split between employer and employee) to a 'sickness fund' for their family. The system also covers pensioners, the unemployed and welfare recipients. Self-employed and workers with high incomes can opt out to private insurance, but some 90% of Germans are in the public system.
The public system is good for traditional one-earner families, but tough on double incomes. We both went private years ago, when we weren't planning on having a family. Children are covered automatically in the public system, but cost extra with private insurance. We also had to pay the full share of Mama's insurance during her maternity leave (the employer normally covers half).
The public system has seen a lot of cost-cutting measures in the years we've been here, with co-payments for prescriptions and dental work and cutbacks in what treatments are covered. The system is in need of reform, but it works.
A couple of years ago when my mother was visiting, she had a bad flu and we took her on a Friday evening to the local doctor who was on call. We had the bill sent to us, and she left us $100, which is what she thought a similar visit would cost at home. The actual bill was $20. (And we were so impressed with the doctor that he is now our family physician.)