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Health care is one of the most intensely debated issues, and this for a reason. At the moment, we do not have one health insurance system, we have two parallel ones. One part of the population has "public" insurance while the other has "private" insurance. Roughly, the former are less well-to-do people than the latter (I, for instance, have a public health insurance). You can coose your health insurance, but the private one costs more. In the past, this health insurance-parallelism has evolved into some sort of two-class medicine. Privately insured people are much more likely to get expensive treatment than the publicly insured.

Health insurance policy has developed into a quite significant issue especially for the small parties (Greens and FDP). Greens want to integrate health insurance into a public "citizen insurance" which is supposed to cover everyone, with the same benefits for everyone but different monthly contributions according to income. FDP wants to get rid of public insurance as a whole and organise the whole system privately according to market mechanisms, with only a few ameliorations for the least well-offs.

Some conservative politicians from the CDU's neo-liberal/market economy wing (Kirchhof-disciples like Friedrich Merz) are also coqueting with a "flat insurance" with a standard monthly contribution regardless of income. But since Merkel's Kirchhof-crash, luckily, every politician who is only half-way sane keeps away from this project.

This is only a very schematic overwiew about the general health care/health insurance situation. It would certainly be an issue or a longer diary which I would want to write - but, due to time problems, not before next week, sorry.

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Fri Oct 28th, 2005 at 06:06:11 AM EST
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In Spain we also have public and private medicine, but in my experience neither is better across the board.

Private medicine is better for ordinary care (family medicine and ambulatory treatment) but private clinics and hospitals are not as good as public ones, the reason being that private clinics cuts corners for profit and public hospitals are more often associated with Universities.

Opponents of socialized medicine in the US (well, in the US advocates call it "single-payer system" because they need to avoid the word "social", but I digress) often point out that Canada has fewer MRI machines per capita than the US as if that single statistic captured all you need to know about health care.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Oct 28th, 2005 at 06:33:09 AM EST
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Let's not confuse private medicine with private health insurance. Private health insurance pays for medical treatment, regardless of its public or private nature.
by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Fri Oct 28th, 2005 at 10:05:17 AM EST
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Some conservative politicians from the CDU's neo-liberal/market economy wing (Kirchhof-disciples like Friedrich Merz) are also coqueting with a "flat insurance" with a standard monthly contribution regardless of income.

But, here is what I don't understand, is this monthly contribution for a public health care, too?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Oct 28th, 2005 at 07:20:29 AM EST
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I forgot to mention: The "flat insurance" model (Kopfpauschalen-Modell), as envisaged by the CDU, does not include those who are privately insured. It sticks to the dual system of private and public health insurance. The monthly contribution will still be one for the public system. For privately insured people, the CDU-model would not change anything. But for publicly insured people, those who are paying less now (because they are earning less) would face rising contributions while those paying (and earning) more would benefit. Some amelioration for the jobless and the poor is supposed to be tax-financed. (This is the main point of critique from a market-liberal point of view like from the FDP.)

But this whole Kopfpauschalen-model is not only about contributions. It also means changing health insurance from an allocation-financed system into a capital-covered system. But this seems to be too far-leading at the moment.

By the way: 88 % of all Germans are publicly health-insured.

Look here for for further information.

by Saturday (geckes(at)gmx.net) on Fri Oct 28th, 2005 at 09:48:51 AM EST
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