American Views Abroad

Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Netherlands overhauled its health care system several years ago and achieved the following goals: near-universal coverage, affordable insurance and quality health care in a program based entirely on private insurance. But there is a big catch: Private insurance in the Netherlands works because it operates more or less like a public utility. Read Jonathan Cole's Going Dutch --- Life after the public option at

Tuesday, September 01, 2009
The following letter has been sent as part of AVA - Berlin's ongoing activities regarding health care.

Dear President Obama,

We are writing to you from Germany on behalf of American Voices Abroad Berlin, a political group here in Berlin that has supported you from thevery beginning. We have written you occasionally, always with words of encouragement. Today we write to you to support a strong American plan for health care, a robust public option. As citizens of the United States who live in Germany, we have benefited greatly from the German health care system, despite its occasional shortcomings. Based on our experiences with this system – which provides high quality, easily accessible, affordable universal coverage at 10.7% of GNP - we strongly support a similarly dependable system for our fellow citizens in the United States. Please see FAQs about health care coverage in Germany at or under Important Links on the sidebar of this site.

What we need is an American plan for health care that is strong enough to be an alternative to the private insurance companies, a plan that would control costs and that would be kept when you change jobs. This public option would provide insurance without preconditions, would not be revoked when you get sick, would have no outrageous deductibles and no lifetime caps. Such a robust public American plan would guarantee affordable care for all Americans. Without such a unified plan, Americans will continue to struggle - region by region, or even family by family - to obtain affordable coverage with which they can feel reasonably secure. Without a comprehensive plan, many gains can be rolled back through administrative fiat depending on which party is in the White House. Under co-op or piecemeal legislation, Americans are likely to experience health care reform as destabilizing and to find themselves trying to solve problems individually that really need to be addressed systemically.This is the simple idea behind health care plans in most developed democracies: an umbrella institution that manages coverage for the benefit of patients and their doctors. It might be single-payer, or it might be a hybrid system like in Germany. There are many possible structures, but in any case, it is a dependable public health care system that controls costs and reduces bureaucracy. A great democracy deserves great health care - and creating a strong public American plan for health care is the greatest domestic challenge that you will ever face.

Mr. President, please stay with the public option, and know that when you do, we will be supporting you with our letters,blogs, commentary on news websites, calls to our Representatives andSenators, and conversations with friends and acquaintances.


Carolyn Prescott and Ann Wertheimer for American Voices Abroad Berlin

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