Germany is one of the world’s great welfare states, but the country’s health care system isn’t strictly socialist. Nonetheless, lots of options, tight regulation and universal coverage are helping Germans live longer than Americans. Might the German example offer a way out of America’s health care struggles?

Don’t count on it.

Here are two facts gleaned from the health care debate: (1) France probably has the best health care system in the world. (2) American politicians want nothing to do with it.

If one accepts the notion that single-payer is a nonstarter in this country and the ever-weaker public option is fighting an uphill battle, strict regulation might be an American progressive’s best hope.

The Global Post’s Paul Hockenos acknowledges that the German system is far from perfect, but, he writes, Deutschland’s solution just might work for America, too.

Global Post: With all the outlandish, scurrilous and otherworldly aspects of the health care reform melee in the United States, it is strange that the German model is almost never invoked — neither by the Obama administration nor its foes on the right. This is particularly odd since its mix of public and private insurance plans is much more like the Democrats’ vision than those of the health care systems of France or Great Britain, which are so often cited. Also, it works pretty well and might be something Americans could profit from examining. Read more

But why go through all this political agony to replicate a system that is itself going broke? Copying the German model is not the solution, but perhaps we can learn a thing or two from our pickled cabbage-loving friends. If America keeps its crappy private insurance system, tough regulation is not a luxury, it’s a necessary ingredient. — PZS

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