We watched Sicko the other evening, which was a bit ironic after I had broken my elbow a while back.

A person who has not spent any time in a country with a social health care system (I know, I know, socialism is the manifestation of evil, that goddamn Hilary Clinton was trying to destroy your country in the ’90s, and thank god honest, clean-living, god-fearing men like Newt Gingrich stood up to her feminine tyranny) might not be able to understand how a German might not comprehend this movie. It is just taken for granted here that health care is available to everyone. The US is, after all, the most powerful and rich nation on earth, that has traditionally served as the model for the rest of the industrialized world. A natural leader among nations. For a German to see how this nation’s health care system just lets people go without health care coverage (or worse yet, simply die), he is flabbergasting. We found it genuinely difficult and downright embarrassing to explain this to some of our friends.

Having had the fortune of experiencing the German health care system first hand, I was overwhelmed. I recall the pundits in the US who love to appear on the cable news channels serving up golden nuggets of wisdom such as, “you think socialized health care is a good idea? Go ask a Candaian.” Fuck you. Have you actually asked a Canadian? All the ones I’ve asked seemed to appreciate their system. Better yet, go ask a German. There were no lines. I hobbled in with a broken bone and they asked me to fill out one form. Then I was being x-rayed, wrapped in a cast, and administered drugs within half an hour. I did have to wait over night for surgery, but hey, I had a bum arm, my organs weren’t failing. After being released, I did have to spend some time in a waiting room for my regular check-ups. But this was the waiting room with everyone else who was there for follow-ups.

I have to admit that the paperwork that came after the surgery was rather annoying. Because it was a work accident, my insurance doesn’t pay, rather the national worker’s insurance does and I have to forward all invoices from the hospital to this office. However, this has allowed me to see the tab I ran up. So far, for the emergency care, surgery, and three night hospital stay, I racked up the staggering charge of under 1,000.00 €.

Yet another reason to add to the “We’re staying here forever” column.

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