Saturday, April 29, 2006

US Healthcare vs. German Healthcare

This is a long post because I am amazed about what I have discovered. I came across this information after researching this topic on the web. Continue reading for more info...

I have psoriasis, and it is an embarrassing skin disorder that turns your skin very red in certain areas, namely your legs and elbows. I cannot remember the last time I wore a short-sleeved shirt or shorts because of the appearance of my skin on my elbows and legs. There are many people in the public at large that are not aware of psoriasis and may believe it is contagious, so to save myself the embarrassment, I just do not wear short-sleeved shirts or shorts in public.

Up until December 2005 I had Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, an HMO, as my health insurance provider. As a sufferer of psoriasis, I had to visit my dermatologist at least once every six months. Every time I had an appointment with her, I would tell her that the lastest cream she prescribed was NOT working and my psoriasis is negatively impacting my life. (I could not wear short sleeves, I cannot wear shorts, I can not go swimming--which I absolutely loved). I would inquire about a new treatment or drug that was approved by the FDA, and she would just say something like, "Oh, well, Kaiser doesn't approve of that drug." She would then prescribe a new cream that did not clear my psoriasis in any way and worse, would actually burn my skin to the point where I could not use it. So I learned to live with my psoriasis and could never go swimming or wear shorts, even if it was 110 degrees Farenheit (or 43 degrees Celsius) in Arizona. [I visited Arizona frequently because I lived there for 6 years and still have close friends there.]

All of that history brings me to the main reason for my post. I visited the dermatologist here in Duesseldorf yesterday for the first time. The doctor was very friendly and obviously cared about treating my condition effectively. He wrote me two prescriptions, and I went to the Apotheke (pharmacy, for those of you in America) to have them filled. I went home and immediately applied the cream to the affected areas. I could see a noticeable difference after only one application. The intense redness begain to subside almost immediately. Today is day two, and it is continuing to improve dramatically. I am even optimistic that by the time two weeks have elapsed and we're in France on vacation, I may be able to wear shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.

Now tell me, why did I not receive similar results from Kaiser back in the US??? I can tell you why. Because Kaiser Permanente is the most corrupt, careless, money-grubbing machine in the US. The patients are treated like cattle. For more information on how bad Kaiser really is, click here.
I am glad I was able to receive treatment that really works here in Germany! Kaiser is about maximizing profits and minimizing costs. Who suffers because of this greed? The patients. Patients are human beings with their lives being severly impacted by the greed of Kaiser.

My German dermatologist was so friendly. He was really busy and I was not even a patient with an appointment. He had this caring aura about him. It reminded me of the old days when I was a child. I remember the doctors being friendly and they really cared about providing quality healthcare for their patients. Sadly, today it is all about MONEY in the US.

I invite other expat bloggers to tell me what they think of the German healthcare system vs. the US healthcare system. I can say, thus far, Germany has the US beat! Of course, any one and all are welcome to leave comments....


Anonymous Debbie said...

Well, I'll find out soon! I have Type 1 Diabetes (autoimmune/insulin-dependent) and am on an insulin pump. I check my glucose 6+ times per day. I also have no thyroid gland (surgically removed due to a tumor) and quite bad asthma, both requiring daily medication. And I'm moving to Germany next month (married to a German). I'm pretty freaked out by it all because I will literally die if I'm without insulin for 48 hours (asthma & no thyroid hormone would kill me also, but just take a bit longer). I have been battling with docs and insurance companies for the simplest things for years.

I have had United Healthcare here in the US for the past 7 yrs and I don't think they're quite as evil as Kaiser, but in the end they're all b*st*rds and only out for profits. You're totally right, James. It's not about helping people. It's about whether they can make one billion MORE this year in profits (cuz 10 bil isn't "enough", you know) so the CEO can get the BEST grade of leather in the new corp jet. This is one of the biggest reasons I am moving to Germany and it's not the other way around. My husband can't conceive of living in a place where one ambulance ride could nearly bankrupt us. Even with good insurance through my employer, I still pay over $350 a month for meds. And if I suggest that the sick or injured should NOT be tossed aside to die under a bridge somewhere, I'm called a Communist or a Socialist. I believe that in a country with this much wealth there is NO EXCUSE for not providing adequate healthcare to EVERYONE. Simply no excuse. And there are millions out there who aren't even as lucky as us to get crappy eczema cream that doesn't work or $350 prescriptions. They get nothing. It's sickening. Guess I am a "Socialist" after all...

Well, sorry for the rant, lol. This is just THE big topic that gets to me. I'm glad to hear this doc is working for you, btw! Kaiser should've given you this prescript a long time ago, the cheap _____s!

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Debbie said...

Sorry, I meant psoriasis cream, not eczema. Duh! My friend was just complaining yesterday about eczema, so I had that in my head.

10:12 PM  
Anonymous Thrive said...

Hi and thanks for the link to Kaiser Thrive Exposed.

I'm curious about the name of the cream you were prescribed as I have a friend with psoriasis who can't seem to find anything that works.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Dixie said...

The health care my husband and I get in Germany is the primary reason why we live in Germany. With my husband being a quadriplegic we couldn't even consider living in the US.

I'm very happy with all my doctors as well. I'm sure there are plenty of doctors in Germany who are jackasses but my doctors have all been wonderful to me.

10:28 PM  
Blogger James said...

Debbie, RIGHT ON! I couldn't agree more with your comments. If they want to call me a Socialist, then I would be proud to wear that badge!!! You will definitely be better off in Germany and under German healthcare. If you want to email me seperately rather comments here feel free to do so. I have some suggestions for you regarding Germany's healthcare system.

Thrive: No problem. I found your website today and I love it! Power to the People. Kaiser should be out of business, but of course they never will be because of all the corruption in the US. The politicians are all bought off by the corporations. It will NEVER change in the US. It makes me sick, literally. The cream I am using is not a specific name-brand. It has a hand-written ingredient list on the bottle that I will have to get and get back to you. The main component, however, is Bethamethasone. That is in Category III out of IV for psoriasis and it really works....Please email me to remind me.

I am glad that you're in Germany cosindering your personal circumstances. Don't even think about moving to the US in our lifetimes....

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

I have several health problems but am among the 45 Million Americans with no health insurance. I am 53 yars old and am afraid that I am going to develop something very serious before I am old enough for Medicare. I read where United Health care paid there CEO over 1 Billion dollars over the last few years. How many Americans like myself could have been covered before it was too late? How can these rich B-----ds sleep at night? I wish I was in Germany or one of the many civilized nations that care about the sick and poor.

12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can vouch for everything you've said.

I've highlighted your post here:

6:41 AM  
Blogger Moggy said...

I came over from corphq on LiveJournal -- I'm a sixteen-year "survivor" of Kaiser, meaning that they haven't managed to kill me yet (despite quite a few seeming attempts). I'm about an hour North of San Francisco, and regularly run into screwups at Kaiser that are often bad enough to (after sixteen years) seem comical.

I keep my entries at -- the most recent entries are more serious, but going back just a few months you get to see the more absurd ones.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Expat Traveler said...

I've never been a member of Kasier probably because my parents had enough knowledge to know they sucked! Lucky for me.. But I've seen funny differences in the dentist even here in Canada surprisingly. My dentist really took the time to explain what she was doing, showing me everything throughly and just letting me understand what I should be doing.. Really I can't believe it's taken 20 plus years for all of this to happen but I'm so glad I've found a great dentist to replace my one in Cali... (and better)

8:15 PM  
Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Oh by the way, I'd agree - changes will never happen in the US because the FDA is corrupt... Why don't you think you can't get medicine that works in the US? For out health? Nice try... For money? Bingo!

8:16 PM  
Blogger Haddock said...

I believe the German health system to be one of the best in the world. The British NHS heathcare system is getting steadily worse. When my grandmother was in hospital about 10 years ago she had a DNR tag on her chart - Do not revive. Meaning if she went into cardiac arrest they were not going to try and save her! - 10 years on she is still going strong and hopefully is coming to visit us in Germany this summer.
At present my 15 year old nephew is on morhine every day because of accute pain in his kidneys. The NHS say they will try and operate in June. This has been ongoing for almost 6 months and his condition is getting worse. There is a real chance he may lose one of his kidneys.
Basically if you are on holiday in the UK and you get ill, try and get to Germany ASAP for treatment.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Red Storm said...

I've had good and bad experiences with doctors in Germany, but it was much easier to see who you needed to see. I don't understand why medicine isn't considered a higher priority here.
I'm also curious about the creme you were using, as I also have a friend with psoriasis.
Thanks for reading my own Kaiser story...
Red Storm...

3:02 AM  
Anonymous Thrive said...

Big exposé in the L.A. Times today about the failure of Kaiser's new kidney transplant program. I'll be tracking the fallout here:

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

My mom has psoriasis, too, so I am interested in what you are using for treatment!

For the most part we are happy with the coverage here. We have AOK through my job, and it covers everything but travel to the USA--too expensive! So we have to get travel insurance as well.

Only thing is that the hospitals here are not as far along as the US when it comes to patient comfort. Example, we visited a friend that just gave birth, and she was crammed into a closet with three other monthers with babies--and all of their guests! I hope we can get more room than that for when our little one appears soon...either that or we'll go home right away if everyone is healthy.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey I don't think people in Brittan should complain to much! at least they will get help when they need it. I have grown up in the US with no health insurance and I have seen things that are just ludacris! It is just horrible when my mother (who has bad heart problems) has to pay over $100 just to get an appointment with her heart was even very hard for us to find her a doctor because many refused to even see her because she has no insurance. For christmas a year or two ago I took her out for a movie because all she wanted to do was see how Micheal Moore was exposing this to the nation in his movie Sick-o. That is the best movie I have seen in a long time and everytime I see it it makes me want to cry. I thank GOD EVERYDAY that I am living in Germany right now and i can have health insurance that I can afford...and that is worth having. I have student insurance when I am at College in the US which is around $900 a year (not bad) but it sucks. I got sick last year and I had to go to the doctor....with my "insurance" for one strep test and a mono test it was over $200 dollars and that doesn't include my medicine which was another $40 or so (for antibiotics!) What person / college student can afford that! In the first few weeks I was in Germany I got sick (it was pretty much the same thing I was sick with in the US) I called the doctor, got an appointment that day, waited 1 1/2 hours, was seen by a specialist, and got all my medicine for 15 euros. I even got the good antibiotics that I couldn't afford in the US (the kind where you only have to take it once a day instead of 4x a day) That is just unacceptable to me. oh yeah my insurance here costs me 66 euros a month and that is it!

6:27 PM  
Blogger Martin said...


I am so glad to hear your experience with German healthcare. By the way, If you have psoriasis, let me reccomend you an excelent cream: R11 and the Hydrogel, from the brand BIOSAL. It is an austrian brand, with natural ingredients and minerals from the dead sea. In spain (where I leave) you can find it in one store, but if you want to buy it via mail, they deliver wherever you live, under payment. The website is

Hope the best results!!!

7:15 PM  

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