Germans May Complain But Still Have Better Care Than The U.S.

Frequently German hospitals have three or four beds per room, but don’t have long waits for surgery

March 26, 2012 – BERLIN -- German healthcare experts, responding to comments made to an initial article in Tthe Lund Report, rejected some of the complaints, but acknowledged that their system isn’t perfect.

Long waits and crowded hospital rooms are not the norm, they say.

“The goal in Germany is to have two-bed rooms” in hospitals, said Bernd Kronauer, an advisor to Wolfgang Zoeller, a conservative politician who represents patient interests in the Bundestag or parliament. “Sometimes there are in fact 3 or 4-bed rooms, but this shall be corrected in the future via more competition."

Kronauer noted that on a comparative basis, Germany does not have long waits for surgeries, citing a 2005 study from the Commonwealth Fund, a US non-profit dedicated to improving the healthcare system.

Ann Marini, a spokesperson for the public health insurers, said “in modern German hospitals two-bed rooms are standard” especially in the former east Germany, where much modernization has taken place.

Still, many publicly insured patients complain that privately insured people get appointments first and don’t have to wait as long to actually see the doctor. About 90 percent of people living in Germany are on one of the national plans. But the private insurers pay doctors better, so those patients get better treatment, many Germans complain.

Overall, however, the United States does worse in international comparisons on just about every front, according to surveys published by the Commonwealth Fund.

A study released in 2010 showed that 33 percent of Americans went without care because it was too expensive, while 35 percent had to pay $ 1,000 or more in out-of-pocket costs. Some 20 percent of Americans had serious problems with paying a medical bill or simply couldn’t pay it and 31 percent had problems with health insurance, meaning they spent a lot of time on paperwork or in disputes with insurance companies.

In each case the US figures were above comparison countries, which included Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and England.

Image for this story by Armin Kubelbeck under a Creative Commons -- Attribution Sharealike 3.0 Unported license.

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