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American Talks About Hospital Services His Wife Received in Germany

Posted Sep 07 2009 10:20pm

The first thing that sticks out is the cost, for over 2 weeks in the hospital and four operations at 10k, well we know that is not an option here in the US, but they were in a spot where they needed care and are just reporting in on the experience.  He compares this to his 2 hours as an outpatient for sinus surgery at 14k here.  What was also interesting was the fact that his wife’s records from 10 years ago at the hospital were available, so I wonder if they were digitized to be made available?  Anyway, an interesting read from Forbes on the comparison and what he had to say.  BD 

LONDON -- Timothy Stoltzfus Jost writes a lot about health care systems in Europe, but this year the Washington and Lee University Law School professor had the unenviable opportunity of comparing the U.S. and German systems first-hand. His conclusion: The German image system, with its mix of public and private health care plans, may be less glitzy, but it delivers just as much bang for far fewer bucks.

Jost was in Goettingen, Germany, for a conference in April when his wife had a bad accident. She was jumping over a fence, trying to get into the botanic gardens, when a ring she was wearing got caught, ripping off her finger.

Several weeks ago, Jost, who has private insurance in the U.S., received the bill for his wife's two-week hospital stay in Germany, her four operations and the ambulatory services she received. He was floored by how cheap it was, especially when compared with an operation he had this summer in the U.S. The tab for his wife, Ruth, came to a little over $10,000.

By contrast, the hospital bill for Jost's two-hour or so outpatient surgery to open up his sinuses totaled $14,521. Jost has yet to receive the bill from the surgeon and anesthesiologist performing his sinus operation.

Jost says the accommodation and food in the German hospital was more basic than in a U.S. hospital and the facility was staffed with far fewer people. "When I had my minor surgery, there were people all over the place," he said. "In Germany, there was very competent staff and they were very responsive when we needed attention, but there were probably two people covering 10 rooms."

More importantly, Jost says, the hospital was just as technologically sophisticated as any U.S. hospital. And the German health care system appeared to be well organized. Doctors in Goettingen were able to retrieve medical records from a previous hospital stay his wife had had in Germany more than a decade earlier.

An American Checks Up On German Health Care - Forbes.com

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