Hi Teammates!

I get asked often why I decided to make Germany my home or why I never seriously consider moving back to America. Well, those are simple questions with multiple layers of answers. Maybe in another post, I will go more in-depth about my reasoning but for now, I will write about one aspect, which is health care. I have lived in Europe longer than I lived in America (22 years compared to 26 years). In those 26 years, I have played professionally, coached, scouted, gone into education, and started my family. I became an adult here, so I know more about the “adulting” things in Europe. I have no experience with the American healthcare system except for what I remember from being a kid…and that was not too great. Both of my parents worked at the local telephone company in Las Vegas. We were a normal middle-class family, but I do clearly remember that it was an unwritten rule in the house that we better not get sick or hurt. Like the time I followed my older brother with his friends and almost got my pinky finger bitten off by a dog. I had to get that finger stitched up well. My brother got in a world of trouble although it wasn’t his fault that I wanted to pet that damn dog behind the fence. I clearly remember that my parents had to pay a lot of that bill themselves, but I also know we had insurance through their jobs. I think I never even had a pediatrician. I was hardly ever sick and besides that dog bite, I cannot remember needing to go to the doctor. If I had some kind of twisted ankle or basketball-related injury, my dad was my doctor. Ice, Ben-Gay, and whatever household “medicine” he could gather up would have to suffice, cuz we were NOT going to the doctor. If I could walk, I could get better at home. If I was sick, whatever they sold at the pharmacy would have to do, and I am SURE I took Nyquil at an age that I probably shouldn’t have. Those are memories that I thought were normal back then. I realize now as a parent myself, that it shouldn’t have been normal. I see now the way it should be.

My children all have a pediatrician. Everything started before they were born with how most European countries handle women when they are pregnant but I won’t even go there… let us just say, there is no comparison. Anyway, not once have I been afraid to go to the doctor here. To make a long story short, the way the healthcare system is set up here is basically like this: both you and your employer put into the health care system…yes it lowers your net pay but in my humble opinion, it’s worth it. Everyone has the right to healthcare…yes everyone. Even homeless people. If they take up that right is another thing but everyone is entitled to it. All the bills go through your chosen health care provider. Let’s take my back surgery for example. I will pay the hospital 10 euros per day for my hospital stay…that is all that I will have to come out of my pocket for. And when I get out, if I need some pain medicine, it will rarely cost more than 5 euros per prescription. Children get most of their prescriptions for free until they turn 16, but if you would like an upgrade in the medicine you were prescribed, it will also only cost 5 euros. I have never paid for any time my children have been sick. Oh, and don’t get me started on what happens if my child is sick and I have to stay home from work. Yeah, I get up to 10 days per year paid to stay home with my child. I am not sure what happens after 10 days, but I have never needed it. It is nice to know it is POSSIBLE to stay home with my sick child and not lose income. This is the NORMAL health care system that everyone living in Germany is provided. I will for sure be written off from work for at least a month…and I will receive my full salary from my employer. If I need longer than 6 weeks off, the health insurance company takes over 80% of my salary. Yes, I would be missing 20%, but it is still better than nothing. Of course, some people who make a lot of money choose to pay their health insurance privately. Instead of putting part of their salary into the general system they pay a private insurer. I suppose there are benefits to it but I have never investigated these benefits because the normal system works for me.

In January I will need another operation on my knee. Too many years of playing on concrete courts when I was young, and playing professionally is taking its toll. I put off both surgeries (especially the knee) because I am used to thugging an injury out as I did as a player in order not to seem weakened. Except for the sleeve I wore on my leg, I never liked to wear anything on the court that would suggest I was hurting in order not to give my opponent a point to attack me with. I no longer have an opponent, but some habits die hard. I never thought for one second that I could not afford to have two major surgeries within three months. In America, I could imagine that I would have thought twice and that is not how I want to live. Of course, every system has its advantages and disadvantages, but for me being a normal guy with a normal job and a family, I am more than satisfied with how things are run here. Each European country has its versions of health care, but in general, most are similar. That is a huge factor in my consideration of where to live but there are more. Unemployment security, family support (yes monetary), school systems, no fear of police (zero fear), and even welfare support (which thankfully I do not need) are amongst the reasons that I have chosen to live here. Yes, I pay a boatload of taxes each month, but I see where that money is going. There are things about living here I do not like, but again, the pros outweigh the cons for me. I miss America at times, but I have been conditioned by becoming an adult here that this lifestyle is better suited for MY situation. It may not be for everyone and I understand and respect that.

Thank you for taking the time to read my words!


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