Monthly Archives: October 2013

Local and Global Art – this Friday and Saturday in Goshen

During the first weekend of November, Goshen is giving visitors a rare opportunity to see local artists and their unique contributions to the national art scene. In Goshen, because of the international atmosphere of Goshen College, some of the local artists have global vision that is rare in the US.  On Friday evening from 5 to 9, visit the downtown streets of Main and Washington for art, music, dance, and downtown merchant specials. Then on Saturday from 10 to 4, go on the free self-guided tour and visit the current gallery exhibits, the artists’ studios, and see the artists as they create their next pieces.

goshen-art-tour-ff1311-friday-403A special Exhibit: “Iraqi Artists in Exile” will be at a local coffee shop, The Electric Brew. The local Ten Thousand villages will also have an international art activity designed for kids and local jewelers will demonstrate how to create Romani inspired jewelry. These activities give a local art event an international flavor.

Don’t miss other local art institutions. There is the Center for Arts and Culture near Notre Dame. The Snite Museum of Art located on the campus of Notre Dame (and free to the public) has an incredible collection of works. Bethel College, IUSB, Notre Dame, and Ivy Tech all hold art collections with many pieces by alumni, students, and faculty. In Elkhart, the Midwest Museum of American Art contains numerous original paintings by Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell

Art can inspire and transform. Art can create a sense of awe and wonder in the viewer. Art can move people in ways they never believed was possible.
Visit these sites for more information:
http://midwestmuseum.us/
http://sniteartmuseum.nd.edu/
http://cityonthego.org/
http://www.michiana.org/Cultural.html

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Healthcare in the Czech Republic

In my post Healthcare: International Perspectives, I looked at U.S. healthcare as compared to some other industrialized nations.  Last week, since the overseas trip offered by the IUSB Office of International Programs next summer is to Berlin and Prague, I wrote about Germany’s healthcare system.  This week, it’s on to the Czech Republic!

Czech Ministry of Health. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, author Ondřej Kořínek.

Czech Ministry of Health.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, author Ondřej Kořínek.

The EPMA Journal, a peer-reviewed scientific journal focusing on healthcare, published an article by Judita Kinkorová and Ondřej Topolčan in 2012 summarizing the history, details, and status of healthcare in the Czech Republic.  The World Health Organization also put together a tremendously helpful report in 2005 (which is much easier to read than the journal article, thankfully!).

Like Germany, and now the U.S., the Czech Republic has a compulsory health insurance system — all citizens are required to participate.  Thus, the Czech Republic has a universal healthcare system.  Also like Germany and the U.S., the Czech system is a multi-payer system.  There are nine primary insurance companies; however, unlike the U.S., they are not-for-profit companies.  However, most of the insurance is provided through a public insurance company, General Insurance Company of the Czech Republic.

One interesting thing about the insurance companies of the Czech Republic is that the boards of the private insurers is required by law to include equal representation from “the State (members appointed by the Ministry of Health), the insured (elected by the parliament), and the employers (delegated by the Chamber of Trade and Industry)” (WHO Report p. 18).  This helps to ensure that the interests of each of the groups is adequately represented in decisions made by the insurance companies.

Most types of care are covered under the plans, save for some cosmetic and acupuncture services.  Previously, most services under the Czech system are provided without charge at the point of service. But in 2008, because the system was struggling financially, some “user fees” and co-payments were instituted for things like doctor visits, hospital stays and prescription drugs.  It appears funding is the primary issue with the program, but information about the healthcare and insurance systems in the Czech Republic is very difficult to find. In fact, in its 2005 report, the World Health Organization stated the system is “not being evaluated or publicized sufficiently” (83) and that “initiative should be started to make the Czech health care system and its processes more transparent for Czech citizens as well as for other Europeans” (84).

Dean Lynn to deliver a keynote speech in South Africa

Marvin Lynn, dean of the School of Education at IU South Bend, will be the keynote speaker at an overseas conference in the upcoming week.

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He will be speaking on Sustainable Learning Environments and Social Justice Colloquium at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on Oct. 29. His topic will be “Critical Race Theory and Education: Implications for a Pedagogy for Global Transformation.”

In this talk, Lynn, an expert on race and pedagogy, discusses how educational research on race might facilitate increased global understanding about our world and how we can continue to work together to improve our societies.

Drawing on examples of widely publicized recent examples of racial discrimination in the U.S. and Europe, he argues that schools must help students become literate in matters of race so that they can work effectively with others in an increasingly globalized marketplace.

“By examining the issues of race, we can build a more sustainable community,” Lynn said.

Upcoming Sushi and Mochi Demonstration

Please join us Wednesday, October 23 at the University Grill for a special international cuisine event.  The event will begin at 1 pm and is slated to continue until 2:30.  The Japanese Club at IU South Bend will be giving a demonstration in the proper techniques for making (and, we hope, for eating) the traditional dishes mochi and sushi.  While a typical midwestern American tendency might be to think of sushi as raw fish and nothing else, both mochi and sushi are primarily rice dishes, each using different, specialized kinds of rice.  The demonstration is free of charge and open to all students.

Krankenversicherung: Healthcare in Germany

In my post Healthcare: International Perspectives, I looked at U.S. healthcare as compared to some other industrialized nations.  Today, I’ll begin my in-depth look at healthcare programs across the world with Germany, since the next overseas trip offered by the IUSB Office of International Programs is to Berlin and Prague next summer.  (The application deadline is January 31, 2014 — it’ll come up faster than you think!  Download the application here.)

In 2008, NPR did a series of programs on healthcare in several different countries, including Germany.  It’s a little old (gosh, when did 2008 get to be so long ago?), but the information is still valid.  The series covered both the facts about healthcare in these nations, and perspectives of individuals using the programs.

While Germany has universal healthcare coverage (meaning all the countries’ citizens are covered), it doesn’t have what’s called a “single-payer system.”  In single-payer systems, healthcare costs are paid entirely by the government with tax money it has collected.  The U.S. and Germany both have multi-payer systems, where money is collected from individuals by multiple entities, often insurance companies, and those entities then pay providers.

Much of the controversy surrounding the ACA (also known as Obamacare) has been around the individual mandate — the requirement that all individuals must carry health insurance or pay a penalty.  The German system also carries an individual mandate; each person and his/her employer pays 8% of their gross income to a “sickness fund” — a nonprofit insurance company.  This sounds like a huge chunk of income, but in reality, the average American who gets health insurance through work pays the same proportion — but usually for inferior coverage.

German ambulance Image credit: Sven Storbeck

German ambulance                                                                                                                      Image credit: Sven Storbeck

German insurance policies have no deductibles, and everyone gets the same level of coverage (whereas in America, different policies cover different things, require different premiums, and have different exemptions, or things for which they won’t pay).  Any and all care for children is completely paid for under Germany’s plan (without premiums), and adults pay very moderate co-pays for doctor and specialist visits (around $15).  Dental coverage is included.  There is private health insurance from for-profit companies available, as well, which costs more and comes with additional benefits (like private hospital rooms and going to the front of the line), but only about 10% of Germans choose to use this plan rather than the non-profit option.

Of course, like any system, it is not without problems.  The American Institute for Contemporary German Studies at Johns Hopkins University lists some of the following issues with the German healthcare system:

  • Lack of a common information-sharing system for medical records.
  • Longer than average waiting periods to see primary care physicians. This does not appear to be a problem with specialists, however.
  • Germany has the 4th highest per-capita spending on healthcare, and their aging population will make cost control in the future difficult.
  • Minor inequity between the privately insured (again, only about 10% of the German population), because costs are higher, and because these plans pay more to providers, so providers tend to favor the privately-insured.

The Commonwealth Fund, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose missions is to promote high-performing healthcare systems, provides an excellent summary of German healthcare here.

Health: To Care or Not To Care

            I was ecstatic and smiling ear to ear after being accepted into the Graduate Program at Central European University in Budapest. I knew big changes were coming my way after finishing my Master’s Degree at Ball State University; moving from Muncie, Indiana to Budapest, Hungary! I couldn’t contain my excitement! Then I realized the tedious part, making sure all documents were in line.

As I reviewed the requirements for CEU, Health Insurance, was on the list. It stated that “In accordance with the Hungarian Law CEU requires that all enrolled students have adequate health insurance…failure to fulfill the requirements may result in the termination of enrollment.” TERMINATION? WHAT? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Why is it required by law that students be enrolled in health insurance? Questions raced through my head and I couldn’t understand why it was necessary. This was very different than at Ball State; termination was for students who committed serious offenses not for health insurance? Why would they care if a student is covered by insurance?

I never heard of a university were health insurance was as important as the application. I needed to make sure that I was enrolled properly so I could stay on my educational path. Getting a full ride scholarship to an International University in Budapest was something I did not want to pass up. So I signed up for health care and made sure all the paperwork was in order.

Health insurance is confusing to most people; let alone in another country. Only months later did I realize the importance of health care for a foreign student. One morning, I woke with a sinus infection which is nothing unusual for me, but I did not plan for it. I did not know what to do so I asked my Hungarian friends “where do I go, what do I do?” It slipped my mind that as a student I was covered; I had health insurance. So what seemed like a complicated mess and time consuming endeavor in Indiana allowed me to have a simple visit to the doctor in Hungary. Within a few days, I was feeling better and amazed by how simple and effective my student insurance.

Thinking back to my initial moment of confusion on health insurance, this made sense. As a student, I was covered when situations like this occurred. As a student, you are covered, simple as that. No confusing mess, just covered. After experiencing the simplicity of the system, being a student in Hungary was easier, no more confusion, nervousness or being scared if I got sick.

As I write this, I realize the importance of health insurance. Students, whether in Indiana or Hungary, health care is important because no one can predict the future. With the new affordable coverage launching October 1st, now is the opportunity to become active in your health care coverage. If you don’t care about your health, who will?

The Best of Times, The Wurst of Times: A Festival For the Ages

The historic Driers meat market (http://www.driers.com) in Three Oaks, Michigan is celebrating a century in business this Saturday, the 19th of October.  They’ve declared a Wurst-Fest for the day, to run from noon to seven pm.

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Even vegetarians will likely find something notable (we might say tasteful) and enjoyable about the shop and its owner, Caroline Drier.  The Drier family is originally from the city of Bremen, a large river-port town in northwest Germany perhaps forty miles from the North Sea coast.

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The traditional family recipes used today in preparing the food and smoked meats at Driers still carry notable characteristics of that region.  In 1976, the store was recognized as a National Historic Site.  It has been in the Drier family since 1913, and a meat market since 1875, shortly after the end of the Civil War (prior to that it was a wagon repair shop, of all things).

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I find this festival intriguing and compelling because there is a complex set of things being celebrated (German-American heritage, the history of the town itself, the longevity and unique historic perspective of an unusual family business) all at once, and all herded in under the heading of delicious smoked meat products.  By the way, if sausages and wurst are not the best choice for you, there are other options to be had in the village of Three Oaks.

It appears (via strictly informal sampling) to have the highest per-capita number of art galleries and funky-cool resale shops of any town in the midwest, as well as a theater featuring live shows, a refurbished corset factory, and bespoke whisky:

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