Healthcare In Germany

I never really knew much about other countries’ healthcare systems until I started to read Fat Acceptance blogs. Later I joined a fibromyalgia support group on LiveJournal, as well as a message board about chronic illnesses in general, and since then I have learned a lot. Being German, I grew up with universal healthcare and automatically assumed that seeing the doctor was free everywhere – because, after all, you didn’t become sick on purpose, right? Haha, yeah. I wonder why they didn’t teach us this stuff in school. I was completely clueless.

Costs aside, there is one other thing that I found rather mind-boggling when I first heard of it: misdiagnoses getting stuck in your medical record forever. I mean, wow. The whole idea that there exists such a thing as a list of everything you’ve ever been diagnosed with creeps me out. Over here, I can just go to a new doctor and practically start from scratch. Sure, my insurance company must be keeping track of me to an extent, but that information is not available to anyone else and certainly doesn’t seem to include diagnoses – er, what I meant was, my diagnoses don’t seem to affect their behaviour towards me. My head, it is disorganised.

Just a few weeks ago I had to send a few documents to a hospital that I’m planning to stay at. My doctor gave me copies of reports from the few specialists that I had seen last year, and to my surprise I discovered that among them was one by a neurologist who hadn’t believed a word I said and got angry with me for “refusing” to take antidepressants when in reality I had merely told him that I’d already tried three different ones and they’d made me manic instead of helping. Needless to say, that report was full of shit. And guess what? I decided not to include it. End of story.

I never really liked my country before I heard of all this. Now I’m pretty glad to have been born here, although I’m worried about where we’re heading. First they introduced co-pay, now more and more hospitals are being privatised. I don’t want anyone whose main interest is making profit to be in charge of my health. No, thanks. I hope we never reach a point where every new doctor I meet knows my entire history already … because I can’t afford to emigrate.

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What Is A “Right”, Anyway?

A bit of random babbling sparked by the sentence, “Healthcare is not a human right, it is a service.” (No source; it has been said by enough people.) My reaction to reading that for the first time was, “I know, sure … and your point is?” I don’t believe humans have a “right” to much of anything, really.

Does a lion have the right to hunt? Yes? … Are you sure? Who decides? If you think about it, to say that a wild animal has a right to anything is ridiculous. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t know nor care. The need for a “right” to hunt does not arise until humans constrain the lion, feel entitled to control it, and realise that it needs to hunt in order to survive – which they then generously permit. Or not.

A right has to be given … if I were the only person on earth, I’d have no rights because there would be no need for any. A right is a tiny hole in the giant net of restrictions placed upon anyone living in a civilised country. It is all a big joke. Here I am, fighting for my “rights” within a system that I don’t even want, in the absence of which those very rights would be meaningless. Social rights are, to me, only a temporary solution – a step in the right direction. What I really wish for is a world where the concept of granting someone access to the things that they need is laughable because access was never taken from them in the first place, and nobody has enough power to grant anyone anything.

I’m beginning to worry that people will start calling me insane anytime soon. To be honest, most of the things I have written on this blog lately surprised even me. They came from somewhere deep inside of me, from a part of my brain that I am not yet familiar with, although on the other hand it also seems more familiar and natural than anything else. It has always been there, but I lost sight of it for a decade or so around the time I became a teenager. As a small child, when I heard that men were expected to open doors for women but not the other way around, I could only think, “But that doesn’t make any sense.” It is amazing how much time and energy society invests in dumbing us down, stripping away that precious ability to look at the state of the world objectively and see the truth that is hiding in plain sight.

Ask any four-year-old if he or she thinks that all sick people deserve to be cured, or if they need to earn the right to it first. Go ahead and ask. But don’t be surprised if the four-year-old then thinks you’re scary for even asking.