Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Health Care Debate: What about Germany?

In all this debate about what our health care system should look like when all is said and done we never hear about Germany. We hear about Britain and Canada - with total government control and ownership of the health care systems in their respective countries. It seems clear that one, the American people don't want government control regardless of President Obama's real agenda, and two, politicians and the lapdog media are not being square with us.

What is Germany's story?

The Germans have universal health care - everyone is covered. Get this: it is a totally private system. The doctors, the hospitals, the clinics, the pharmaceuticals and yes, even the insurance companies are private companies. How do they do it and still keep their administrative costs to around 5%? There are a few reasons. They don't have a layer of bureaucratic red tape imposed by individual states like we do here in America. They don't have Medicare. Just as significant the private insurance industry in Germany is non-profit.

American health care administrative costs are triple what they are in all the other modern countries. Our per capita health care costs are double and we don't even cover everybody. Why? Part of the issue is Medicare itself. Medicare has administrative costs of around 3%. You might say "brilliant"! How do they do it? They do it by pushing those costs on to the providers. There is a sub-specialty in medical collections for Medicare reimbursement. I know this to be true because my wife is one. There is a time limit imposed getting money out of Medicare - if all "i's" are not dotted and your "t's" are not crossed forget it, you will not get paid. Billers are required to resubmit multiple times which obviously drives up administrative costs. Sure, Medicare doesn't get between the doctor and the patient by denying treatment - they just don't pay up on the other end.

Additionally, a non-profit insurance model makes a lot of sense for health care. Health insurance is not like car insurance and other insurance offerings where we have and should have choices. Not everyone drives a car or owns a home. We all have health issues. There is no value added with for profit health care insurance.

We definitely need to straighten out the administrative side of our health care system - this doesn't mean it has to be government controlled like the current congress and the President favor. There is a working model we are overlooking...

Have you heard anything about Germany and how they have been a success in marrying universal coverage with a private health care industry? I thought not. We should try to emulate Germany rather than Canada or Britain, but this is not what the left - the Democrats really want.



Yehonason said...

Germany's model seems like a workable premise. When you look at how much we spend as compared to other contries, we are way out of line. I believe much of this is from the Insurance companies, and the profit they need to make in order to stay viable.

It is for this reason that people have suggested a Government solution or a Co-Op solution, or a trigger solution that would offer the Government solution if specific guidlines were not met from the insurance companies.

Bottom line is the price is going up disproportiantly with healthcare and we are not keeping up. The concept of non-profit insurance companies is interesting, but the obstacles are many.

1. They will not want to become non-profit, as they make a profit today, and are doing fairly well at it.

2. For government to dictate that they need to become non-profit would never sell with the Republicans, perhaps with the Democrats, I doubt it.

3. No one is proposing this solution, though it does seem viable.

Bottom line is we do not have any real conservative bills out there to re-haul the healthcare issue. What we need is conservatives at the table seizing the limelight away from the President in a constructive way. We are spending way too much time saying no to anything from the White house instead of trying to address a ligitimate problem and then catapulting to the front of the pack with a good sound plan.

It can be done, but as of yet there are no trully marketable conservatives pushing this agenda. Like it or not, President Obama is a very influential person, both in the US as well as out... The trick is maybe not to knock him down, but rather to use his energy and make him stick to a workable compramise.

Thanks for the blog post, I find your thoughts quite insightful.

All the Best.