Posted by: kateraidt | November 11, 2009

The Worst Maternity Leave in the World? It Might Be Yours: Part 2

pregnant-wmanThis post is a follow-up to my original post about how I discovered that the US is the only country in the world who does not have a paid maternity leave system. I received numerous positive comments, but also a fair share of hate mail. A few disgruntled souls said things like “How dare people steal from the government”, “The government is not a piggy bank!”, etc…These people are thoroughly uneducated on how a socialized system really works, so I did a fair share of research to educate those who have never lived in a socialized health care system.

First, my husband is from Germany, my web developer is from Canada and I interviewed men and women from Switzerland, Britain and Italy. Instead of stealing stories written in the very-biased media, I went directly to the people who are currently living in socialized medical systems. Here is what I found:

1. Socialized health care is not free. The people are not stealing from the government. They do not use the government as a piggy bank. The people in these socialized countries pay 10-15% more in taxes than we do in the US – and this money is simply returned to them when the time comes: health care, maternity leave, disability pay, etc…Similar to what we know as life insurance: We pay our monthly premiums over the course of many years, and when we die our beneficiary wins the lottery. Does anybody accuse a widower of “stealing from the insurance company” when she collects on her late husband’s life insurance policy? I didn’t think so.

2. The biggest misconception the US has with socialized medicine is that it is 100% funded and run by the government. This is not always true. Take Germany for example: in Germany, their health care is funded through private insurance companies (similar to the US). The big difference in Germany is that every single person is covered and when you have an illness, every single penny is paid (unlike the US). In Germany, the government merely regulates how much doctors and hospitals can charge for treatments. This keeps the costs low and the insurance companies from going bankrupt. Not a bad idea. The maternity leave pay, disability pay and other perks are paid for through tax dollars (and sometimes partially through employers).

3. I have yet to find anybody in a socialized health care system to complain about paying higher taxes. Not one. Every single person I have ever met says they are fine paying higher taxes because they know they are going to see that money again one day when they are battling cancer (100% of medical bills paid), when they lose their job due to illness or an accident (80% of income paid for life), and that they will have the freedom for one parent to stay at home for one year and raise their children well (one year paid maternity leave). People in foreign countries ask me why the US is so opposed to highr taxes – when they would reap the rewards tenfold on the back end. My answer is: Americans live so far beyond their means as it is, most of them don’t have an extra 10% to give. We all have the ability to pay more in taxes (America is the weathiest country in the world, right?), but most Americans aren’t willing to part ways with their big homes, SUVs and designer clothes. We live for the now. We don’t plan for the future.

“I will do today what others don’t, so I will have tomorrow what others won’t” – author unkown

4. Both men and women gasp in foreign countries when I inform them that it is socially acceptable in the US for a 12-week old baby to be left 8-12 hours per day at a day care center. I also receive a big gasp when I mention that the typical hospital stay for child birth is 1 day for a vaginal birth and only 2 days for a C-section. In Germany, there are no organized day care centers until a child is 3-years old. A mother with a vaginal birth typically stays in the hospital for 5 days and with a C-section 7 days. They feel it is important for mother to fully recover and master breast-feeding before going home.

5. There are numerous socialized organizations in America who we currently utilize and greatly respect: public schools, the military, libraries, police department, etc…Does anyone ever think, “Gosh, I think my kids are getting a terrible education because their school is paid for by tax dollars!”, “I hate the military because it’s funded and run by the government!, “If I ever need help, I’m not going to call the police department becasue they are city employees!” and “I bet the books at my local library suck because they are paid for by tax dollars!”? These comments would be obsurd. So, if we can love and respect our local schools, teachers, military, libraries and police department, then why can’t we learn to respect doctors and hospitals who are partially funded by tax dollars as well?

I challenge anybody reading this to go spend a year in a developed, socialized country where family values and child welfare are a priority. Yes, these people have a smaller take-home income than some of us, but they are some of the happiest, stress-free people with an enormous quality of life that I never could have fathomed in a million years until actually living there.

Don’t knock it until you have tried it!



  1. hear, hear! great post. but you are preaching to the choir. there is so much terrible ignorance in the US. sigh. this should be a mandatory read for all the ‘tea-partyers’ out there.

  2. This is really something to think about!

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