Excellent care for much less
In 2016, while trying to go through a blocked exit of a restroom in the Frankfurt International Airport, my wife slipped on the wet surface and fell, breaking the neck of her femur. After emergency treatment at the airport, she was rushed to the nearby medical hospital of Goethe University. She underwent emergency surgery performed by a professor who teaches the procedure. She received excellent care for the eight days she was hospitalized and had a thoroughly successful recovery.
Her total German medical costs were $8,000. Representatives from Florida Blue confirmed that a similar scenario in the United States would have cost somewhere between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on the status of the hospital.
While caring for my wife I had an opportunity to ask the business manager and doctors how Germany is able to provide superior quality service for 10 percent the cost in the United States.
Among the primary reasons:
• Tort reform: Non-economic damages are a fraction in degree, consistent with overall medical costs (10 percent). Germany does not have a personal injury lawyer industry.
• Doctors' compensation: Doctors told me that they can happily get by on 200,000 to 300,000 euros per year. Treating and caring for patients is their primary goal.
• Medical student support: Doctors do not graduate with huge debts that must be figured in to their overhead.
• Treatment-based pricing: Based on studies of procedures, modes of recovery and outcomes, a fixed reimbursement price is set for all treatments. For example, a broken neck of the femur cost an all-inclusive $6,500. The incentive is to do both an efficient and effective treatment as failure to do so results in the hospitals and doctors absorbing additional costs.
• Universal, single payer system: The exorbitant executive salaries, marketing costs and profits of the private insurance industry are eliminated. Supplemental private insurance is available but the general program, which is available to all citizens of Germany, is held in wide esteem by all the Germans we have spoken to. Remember, we had not paid anything into the system and our costs were 10 percent of what they would have been in the United States.
So, what businessperson would turn his or her back on real evidence that a product of the same or better quality could be had at 10 percent of the current asking price? And this is not just any product. Health care or the lack thereof affects our fundamental rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Why are these and other elements of the German health care model not under study and consideration by the U.S. Senate?
Stephen W. Ritch, St. Petersburg
Russian help welcomed | July 12
Scandal keeps growing
Two points on the Trump campaign meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya.
First, imagine that after receiving a message that a source may have something that would be "highly useful," three men walk into a bank, guns drawn and demand money. The manager tells the men that this is the bank's last day in business and they have no money on site. The men put their guns away and leave. Clearly they were misled on the value of this source. As a result, they attempted to gain an asset illegally, but failed. Have these men done anything wrong (legally, ethically or morally)?
Second, remember that Richard Nixon did not participate in the Watergate break-in. He was driven from office for attempting to cover up his knowledge of the event after it occurred.
The significance of Trump's son, son-in-law and campaign chairman meeting with a Russian attorney doesn't equal Watergate, but the number of events that keep arising may outweigh a single break-in.
John Day, Clearwater
Brew frontier | July 12
Don't ignore alcohol's toll
There's no question that an opioid misuse crisis is sweeping our country. Yet alcohol abuse continues with little or no mention.
Your newspaper would never dream of publishing a story about the "fun" aspects of drug use, yet recently — on page 1A — you featured a local craft brewery and its latest offerings.
Before you give front-page exposure such as this again, please consider this paragraph from "Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General's Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health" from 2016:
"Alcohol misuse contributes to 88,000 deaths in the United States each year; 1 in 10 deaths among working adults are due to alcohol misuse. In addition, in 2014 there were 47,055 drug overdose deaths including 28,647 people who died from a drug overdose involving some type of opioid, including prescription pain relievers and heroin — more than in any previous year on record."
Paul Cooper, St. Petersburg
Brief era of good feelings
When Rep. Steve Scalise was shot there was a lot of posturing about unity. Columnists wrote about how Americans come together when the going gets tough. Well, the going got tough and where are we? Same old partisan politics.
The new health care bill should be developed by a group including both Republicans and Democrats. Their most important goal should be a program that insures health care for all Americans and does not include earmarks such as tax breaks for certain segments of the population. This cooperative effort should minimize the ability of a few on the radical left or right to hold the bill hostage.
Barry Kreiling, Brooksville