, Newburyport, MA

October 27, 2012

Mirra wrong on German health care

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the Editor:

Twice in the past week, at a forum in Haverhill and at the debate in Georgetown, I have heard Mr. Mirra praise the German Healthcare System and refer to it as being decentralized and reliant on competition between private insurance companies. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am happy that Mr. Mirra likes the German Health Care system but if he likes that, he certainly should like the Affordable Care Act. Since I grew up in Germany, have many relatives there, some with serious health issues and travel there frequently, I am very familiar with the German Healthcare system. It is over 75 percent government funded, strictly regulated and includes an individual mandate. Everyone must have health care insurance. There is a private option and about 30 percent of the population is covered by private insurance. Some 70 percent of the population is covered by what can be termed as socialized medicine. One of the advantages of this type of health care coverage is that it costs about half of what we pay here in the U.S. and the outcomes are better than those in the U.S.

All of the countries in the European Union have some form of socialized medicine and Mr. Mirra’s comment that those countries in Europe who have socialized medicine are all going bankrupt was particularly disingenuous. This is why I am writing this letter.

People in the U.S. often are given the impression that socialized medicine is either too expensive or does not deliver appropriate services. Neither is true. The fact that Spain, Italy and Greece are struggling with deficits has little to do with socialized medicine. All of the Scandinavian countries, Belgium, Netherlands, England, France and Germany have socialized medicine and its citizens are very happy with their coverage.

The fear of going bankrupt because of health issues does not exist in Europe. If you have the misfortune of having to deal with catastrophic illness, at least in Europe you don’t also have to worry about going bankrupt, trying to get healthy.

I support Barry Fogel because as I observed again this past week, he is knowledgeable, thoughtful and deliberate in his approach. I feel he would represent us well on Beacon Hill. When I listen to Mr. Mirra, I hear all of the Republican talking points which emphasize small government and tax cuts for the so called job creators. The Bush tax cuts have certainly not created more jobs, so why would anyone think that more tax cuts would be the only solution.

Inge Buerger