International Health News: German Hospitals Worry Over End Of Compulsory Military Service; Britain Tops Study On End-Of-Life Care

The Wall Street Journal: German hospitals are worried that the end of compulsory military service could hurt their workforce as most young German men end up fulfilling their duties there and in other public-service venues. "Increasingly … conscription's main impact has little to do with military training at all. As attitudes toward mandatory service have changed over the decades, the draft's biggest beneficiaries have become Germany's hospitals, nursing homes and other social programs, where for the past 20 years more than half of draftees have opted to carry out alternative, nonmilitary service." Opponents of the abolition of the compulsory services say it will leave a hole in Germany's public services. Despite a law that dictates such conscriptees do only supplementary work aimed at not making other workers lose their jobs, "Losing the steady flow of civilian servants would be the latest blow to Germany's health-care system, beleaguered by the spiraling cost of caring for an aging population. Earlier this month, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government announced further increases in premiums and cuts in medical spending to help plug an €11 billion ($14 billion) deficit in the country's public health-insurance system next year" (McGroarty, 7/19). 

Chicago Tribune: In the meantime, Britain has been ranked as first on the list in the quality of care it gives dying people, according to a new study. "A well-established network of hospices as well as strong government support for end-of-life care helped to place Britain at the top of the list of 40 countries, despite not having the best health care system, said the report last week from the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research arm of The Economist magazine." The U.S. ranked 9th. "The report also noted that while the U.S. has government-funded reimbursements for hospice care through Medicare and Medicaid, patients need to give up curative treatment to obtain reimbursements" (7/18).

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