Is Germany’s health care system a model for the U.S.?


(NBC News) Americans are divided about how to pay for medical care and insurance, an issue that will continue to be debated hotly as presidential candidates tout their plans for overhauling the nation’s health care industry.

Whether the “fix” is found in the Affordable Care Act, private insurance, “Medicare for all” or something totally different, some Americans are pointing to health care systems in other wealthy countries as models.

One such country is Germany.

Courtney Reich, 28, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2009. Even though she was on her family’s health insurance at the time, she said she had to pay hundreds of dollars every month for her insulin, which was necessary for her survival.

But when the Chicago native moved to Germany, Reich said she was shocked to learn both her insulin and insulin pump were totally covered — no out-of-pocket expenses.

“As a student at a public university in Germany, I automatically qualified for the public health care system,” Reich said. “I was really surprised that everything necessary to take care of my diabetes was covered, 100 percent.”

Reich said she couldn’t help feeling like a drain on the country’s system, and expressed those feelings to her German friends.

They reassured her they simply viewed health care differently.

“It’s about having a safety net, because tomorrow you don’t know what could happen,” Reich told NBC News.

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