Like U.S., Germany struggles to contain costs in healthcare reform

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government is under intense pressure to reform the nation's healthcare system before it goes bankrupt, the online newspaper EarthTimes reports. The Merkel government is weighing whether to cut spending in the system or increase the payroll tax that funds it, but it has come under fire for failing to keep costs under control. A recent effort to put greater price controls on pharmaceutical drugs has fizzled in the face of industry opposition, EarthTimes reports.

Similarly, one of the most enduring criticisms of Democrats' healthcare overhaul is that it doesn't do enough to keep healthcare inflation under control while promising subsidies for tens of millions of Americans to buy health insurance, possibly creating an unsustainable new entitlement program. For their part, Republicans didn't help things during the debate by systematically tarring attempts to control costs as heartless government rationing.

The EarthTimes story's kicker quote comes from German policy expert Fritz Beske, who says his kinsmen need to acknowledge that rationing care will soon be unavoidable when 50 of every 100 girls born today will live to be at least 100.

"Nowadays we first figure out what we need, and then find the money to pay for it," Beske said. "In future we will have to do the exact opposite. A certain sum of money will be available to the system, and we'll have to figure out how to meet all the needs fairly."