Wrong versus Right



“It would not be acceptable.”

When asked under what circumstances the German people would allow for 10% of their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, friends, and colleagues to be without health insurance, Axel responded, “It would not be acceptable.”

As he leaned back in his chair to provide that response, there was a strain in his voice, as if I had asked him to be the sole judge, jury, and executioner overseeing a capital crime.

I could see the idea made him uncomfortable, so I pushed him further.

How about 5%?

“No, that is not the way we see things.”


Axel was visibly disturbed by these scenarios, despite their improving discrepancy, but after our nearly hour-long conversation, he knew why I was asking.

“We do not view healthcare as an option. It is a right. It would not be acceptable.”

The knowledge that nearly 0.1% of Germans do not have healthcare at all times (typically only during times of transition from private to public insurance and vice versa), was distressing enough.

As a physician, he was entrusted with providing the German people care when needed; as a German, he intrinsically recognized the right therein of each and every German.

While visiting Frankfurt, healthcare as a human right was the resounding theme the American expatriate, Brazilian national, German physician, and German professional provided in their individual discussions regarding healthcare. They each had different experiences in their respective healthcare systems and equally different knowledge, experience, and respect for the American healthcare system.

Yet each of them, coming from different perspectives, believed the ability to receive healthcare, without concern for financial ruin or ability to pay, was a basic and necessary right.

Yes, there are economic and political stressors inherent in providing healthcare as a right, but when it came to health, that of an individual or a nation, there could be no more critical internal struggle to pursue.




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