at the Regierungskrankenhaus
Even in the former communist countries, the ruling class had its own form of health care. I was reminded of this a few days ago when I saw a local news program about East Germany's Government Hospital (Regierungskrankenhaus). Located in East Berlin, the hospital resembled a luxury hotel, and catered exclusively to East Germany's elite.
For its time, the hospital was an ultra-modern facility that had state of the art equipment, highly specialized doctors (paid in West German Marks), and medications available only in the west. If a drug was unavailable at the hospital, a Stasi officer was sent to West Berlin to procure it. The hospital had luxury apartments, televisions in every room, and even bowls of tropical fruit for patients and guests (unavailable to most East Germans). Erich Honecker, East Germany's Communist Head of State, stayed there for a brief time in palatial splendor.
Today, this hospital stands empty, a stark reminder of the inequalities that existed in a so-called "Egalitarian State." As health care costs continue to rise and the ability of the average American to afford basic health care (even with insurance) becomes less attainable, I wonder if our two-tiered system of health care will continue to widen and become more like that of the former East Germany.