Health Insurance and Patient Care in Germany: The Effects of a Macro-Scale System on Individuals
Nichols, William H. (Bill)
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This Project is composed of two parts. The first contains the results of my research into the structure of the health-care system. But as this system is an inseparable part of the entire social-assistance network, an overview of this network's main components is also provided. This inclusion is justified on the grounds of the more complete understanding it provides: the German attitudes towards the provision of health-care are philosophically linked to the concept of the citizen's place in the society. For example, the fact that medical care is recognized as a citizen's constitutional right could be overlooked, should a brief examination of the constitution be lacking from such a description. This research was composed of two parts: a) library research conducted at the university's libraries and via materials collected from various government and private institutions and b) personal visitations of various health-care institutions. These institutions visited included several health-spas (hereafter termed Kurbtider), which were of particular interest because of their value in German treatments and their absence in American medicine, and a site in the former German Democratic Republic (i.e., "East Germany''). This visitation of the Herzzentrum Leipzig showed just how far the East has come in the five years since reunification, while also providing s<>me insight into the conditions present there under communism. The second part of this project consisted of my voluntary service at the University Hospital in Regensburg (hereafter termed the Uni-Kiinikum Regensburg, or simply the Klinikum). While filling the role of a Pjlegepraktikant (one who is training to become a nurse), I performed many of the tasks required of "regular'' nurses. This proved no small task for one with no formal training! I worked approximately 30 hours per week in the ward for patients requiring surgery, specifically surgeries on the digestive or circulatory systems. This position proved an excellent location in which I could not only observe the practical effects of the health-care policies upon individuals but also gain invaluable practical experience in the routine of a hospital setting. Further discussion of this position follows under the section Spotlight- Das Uni-Kiinikum Regensburg.