Germany ups the fight on Body Mod

As you may know, even linking to BME in Germany is illegal, and the German government has already successfully taken legal action againt Google there to have BME removed from the German version of their search engine. I recently received this letter from a friend in Germany:

Bad news for Bodymod Freaks here in Germany. The government decided to redesign our health system. As a part of these changes so called “risk groups” like extreme sports fans or bodymod addicts have to pay any medical treatment they need by themselves, given the trouble is caused by these activities. No [standard] health insurance will cover any kind of problem you could have after a body piercing or a tattoo, not to speak about heavier mods.

So if you should be so unlucky to need very expensive treatment, a surgery maybe, because something went wrong when you got something pierced, you will have to pay thousands of euros (1 Euro is about 1.20 US Dollars) by yourself. If you can’t pay it you’ve got a serious problem. Because no Doctor will help you then.

And they talk about human rights. Yeah. But only rich people are humans to them. Be grateful you don’t live in a country which is ruled exclusively by money bags.

I asked for a little follow up information, but this is a brand new change so there is not much yet:

There is a way to get a health insurance which covers these special risks — but you have to pay 25 Euro (30 US$) extra per month, in addition to your regular health insurance. No matter how much you earn, these 25 will always remain the same. The extra insurance is volontary, but if you don’t have it, it is like I said: No doctor will help you if you get an infection from a piercing or something like that.It would have been a lot better if they offered an insurance you can buy when getting pierced, so a piercing will become more expensive, but you are safe if something goes wrong. Maybe some private insurance company will have this idea some time later, but this will surely take some time.And do-it-yourself piercers, self-modders or people who got an illegal modification done at an underground parlor would be unprotected in this case either.

So currently it looks as if you’ll have to join this extra insurance-fund, paying 25.- extra per moth, if should ever want to get a piercing or try yourself at a BMX offroad bike. All so-called “self-accountable risks” are to be covered in this expensive extra-insurance. If you refuse joining it, you should not risk to do anything dangerous. And a nostril or belly button piercing, as every second girl has it, would be considered dangerous in this context. I don’t know about how they include the standard ear lobe piercings there. 98% of the female population have pierced ears, including many women over 70 years. But as I know German bureaucrats they will make no difference there. Politics and reality are very different things.

So most people, but espeacially the younger ones, will have to pay this extra fee. Everything else would be too risky…

What do you think? Should body modification fans have to pay extra to have healthcare? And if anyone knows more about these changes, please do post them in the comment forum.

This entry was posted in ModBlog and tagged , , by Shannon Larratt. Bookmark the permalink.

About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

39 thoughts on “Germany ups the fight on Body Mod

  1. Seems like it’s not so much anti-mod legislation, but tailoring your pricing structure to meet the perceived risks instead.

    I suppose if you first accept that people who smoke should pay more health insurance (and I don’t accept this – but when you live in a country where health provision is a for-profit industry what do you expect?), then that particular thin-end leads to people who ride motorbikes, to people who play contact sports, to people who get piercings.

    I don’t know much about Germany’s healthcare system – or indeed whether this individual is talking about private or universal healthcare. All I can say (and not for the first time) is “thank Christ for the NHS”.

  2. For all those who don’t think body modification fans should have to pay extra for healthcare related to their activities, here’s something to chew on:

    Should heavy smokers have to pay extra to have healthcare once they start showing signs of smoking-related illness?

  3. I thought they were talking about something similar here in The Neterlands. But I’m not sure, could also be only about our lovely German neighbours..

  4. It’ll be stopped as soon as anyone takes it to the European Court, or even a German court if they’ve enshrined the european bill of rights into law…

    Its blatantly anti human rights, not just excluding subincisions and such, which i think it might be fair to get your own insurance for, but lobe piercings and ‘extreme sports’?


  5. You could live in the US where you have no health care coverage at all, unless your rich. Europe still seems like a nicer place to live to me. (If anyone can help me get a job in the Netherlands, please let me know!)

  6. I wouldn’t have issues if smokers, people who eat fast food, people who drive, do home construction projects or do any “every day” activities that put them at higher risk.

  7. I really don’t see the benefit of doing that at all, other than making a little extra on the people willing to shell out the extra money for the full coverage.

    If they’re going for people who put themselves at risk, then also add in people that work in labs using radation or flammable chemicals, hell even lab rodents/animals. That’s risky behavior too, and I think a little riskier than getting a body modification.

    It seems to me they’re trying to make things harder for a subset of the population who participate in activities that stray from the “norm” and that are therefore “bad” in the hopes of curtailing the behavior and making a point. Health care isn’t a privilege, its a right.

  8. BMEJapan is still on though, AND there’s a link from BMEJapan to BME. I guess they overlooked that one.

  9. I think its probably an example of what happens when health care is socialized. While you are able to provide a base level of health care for a broader majority, when that centralized health care source has to make difficult decisions regarding risk management, there isn’t the opportunity for the market to provide an alternative which might correct injustices (such as this). I’d rather see regulated privatized health care in which the modified person can shop for providers than being at the mercy of a monolithic government beurocracy.

    (to be fair, I really don’t know anything about germany’s health care system, so I grant that I could me misrepresenting their systems. )

    Furthermore, I think its probably indicative of the problem with a “rights” based ethical discourse that we develop a sense of entitlement about things like health care, and how the seemingly more “rights” are about as real as santa claus; a useful lie we tell ourselves to keep folks nice, instead of naughty. Human beings have dignity (a product of relationality), but where these “rights” (a product of individuation) come from is a mystery to me.

    Not that either of these are probably popular points of view. *ducks incoming slagging*

  10. I dunno though, if I could pay a small monthly fee over the normal and know that I would never have to be afraid of going to a doctor for any sort of mod gone bad… it seems like something many would think about.

  11. Thats not the point, they shouldnt have to pay the money regardless of whether they will with this new law.

    Im just waiting for “fat tax”, and illegalities of smoking. If anything you should have to pay more insurance for smoking and drinking..

  12. Just a side note that isnt related, when typing that comment i put wether instead of whether first, only to find out later that a “wether” is a castrated ram.

  13. In my opinion, I think this is discrimination. What about other people who are deemed “risky”? Will it be more expensive for single mothers to deliver babies? Will alcoholics have to pay for new livers? There is no where to draw the line. Breaking your leg by tripping while walking down a sidewalk and breaking your leg while sky diving deserve the exact same treatment at the exact same price. It is also not clear to me that body modification is particularly “risky” in terms of number of medical treatments given. Should SMOKERS be the #1 group in this “risky” population?

  14. absolutely ridiculous and all sorts of wrong.

    they should also think about not giving health care to people who smoke, people who drink and basically anyone stupid enough to actually LIVE THEIR LIVES.

  15. Though initially very attrocious sounding, I don’t really see this as very differnt than an insurance company charging someone more for being at a very high risk for heart failure. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that doctors should help the sick, regardless of what MADE them sick, and regardless of the size of their wallets (go Canadian Health Care System!), but here in America, we don’t have too much of a different system.

  16. It may be that those points of view are unfashionable, and not just unpopular. I know many people who seem to love socialist ideals. They just can’t seem to conceive for themselves how in general govt bureaucracies are bad. ISTR that Shannon once spent 7 hours or so waiting to get his broken arm taken care of. Holy crap! In the US with universal health care (not insurance, know the difference!) he could have gone into any hospital and the triage system most use would have gotten him taken care of pretty quick. Or, he could have gone inot a private physician of his choice and paid any amount they agreed to to get himself fixed.

    Someone please correct me if my memory is failing.

  17. “Be grateful you don’t live in a country which is ruled exclusively by money bags.”

    wait, what country is he talking about? not mine.

  18. I agree with smurf… but why stop there?

    Why not charge people extra who refuse to use pedestrian crossings, or maybe those who walk under scaffolding, or people who ignore the “hot coffee” warning on paper cups, and end up burning their mouths.

    To be honest, I don’t think that it will work.

    But hey, I’m communist :D

  19. That’s ridiculous.

    To quote Shannon:
    “…piercing is a non-issue. Assuming studios are adequately regulated, piercing is incredibly safe — far safer than organized sports, driving a car, or all the other things we agree are within acceptable levels of risk… The long term problems are minimal…”

    The law is singling out people who participate in activities that are slightly outside the “social norm”.

  20. as an actuary, i see no problem with people paying extra if they are in a higher risk group. in fact, here in canada, i’m angry about subsidising the healthcare for smokers! HOWEVER the problem in germany is that no one is basing this on any scientific studies, but only on their own biases. if there was a study done that showed that pierced people are more likely to need medical care, then by all means, i won’t mind paying extra. but in this case, there is no sound study to support this. biased people simply assume that pierced people are infection mongers.

  21. I do live in a country ruled exclusively by moneybags. Be glad you have some form of National Health Care.

    I think it’s ironic that in a country where you can go 150 mph on the freeway that BMXers, mountain bikers, and pierced/modified individuals are considered “risk groups”

  22. Waiting4Arson: I can’t speak for all the countries, but at least in the UK the right to health care comes from the taxes we pay.

    And I have to agree with smurf’s logic; if smokers and junk-food eaters have a right to healthcare, so do people who experience trouble with their bod mods. We shouldn’t forget that a vast number of ailments from which we suffer today result from / are aggravated by our lifestyle choices (whether that is to practice unsafe sex, drink in excess, stress too much or drive carelessly, to mention just a few….)

  23. “The law is singling out people who participate in activities that are slightly outside the “social normâ€?. ”

    Not true, the social norm is to have your ears pierced, in fact its nearly encouraged. The fact is about 65% of people will have to pay this extra money just for having their ears pierced.

  24. Tunnelled, triage in the US would have made me wait just as long. I was a low priority case.

    As a general statement, the stats say there are about 43 million pierced and/or tattooed people in the United States. Is it really reasonable to suggest that the popularity of tattoos and piercings has added a $15 BILLION (43M people * $30 per month * 12 months) per year load on the healthcare system in the US?

    Give me a break — this is a SCAM.

  25. shannon, i’m with you. obviously it’s a scam based on their bias and not actual information regarding how much modifications cost the healthcare system. (see my comment above where i go into more detail also).

  26. Shannon doesnt this just make you so proud to be a German Canadian? I know I am *rolls eyes*

  27. They should add a freaking $100+ tax for smokers, excessive drinkers, etc, etc. I

    f anything, their health problems are more of an issue then a few mildly infected piercings that can be treated with anti-biotics.

  28. Pingback:

  29. It is against everything the concept of “insurance” stands for.

    Insurance means a bunch of people pay a fixed amount of money into a pool. This pool will be used to cover costs if something predefined happens to a contributor of thsi pool.

    It used to be, that the premium was only determined by the coverage you desire, but as the insurance market changed form growth to redistribution, these concepts got thrown overboard.

    It’s not just the modded who have to pay more premium for the same coverage – here are some examples from Switzerlands larges insurer:

    - Smokers have to pay more for health ins.
    - The elderly have to pay more for health ins.
    - Foreigners have to pay more premium for their car ins.
    - Youngsters have to pay more for car ins.
    - City dwellers have to pay more for health ins.

    there’s even a pro-life insurance that charges a higher premium to people who don’t sign that they will never have an abortion.

    As a result of this, people try to use up every penny they pay for the insurance. They cheat, they go see their doctor whenever possible, for whatever they can. A lot of people spend a few weeks in clinics, just relaxing and enjoy the walks in the clinics parks – kinda like wellness holiday.

    I pay 250$ of healthcare premium every month – and I have pretty much the cheapest coverage there is.

  30. OK, this is to clarify some things:
    Read what the WHO has to say about the German national health system here

    To quote the WHO:
    “In international comparison, the German health care system has a high level of financial resources and physical capacities. The population enjoys equal and easy access to a health care system offering a very comprehensive benefits package at all levels of care; waiting lists and explicit rationing decisions are virtually unknown. There is doubt, however, whether the high spending on health translates into a sufficiently cost-efficient use of resources. Various cost-containment measures – including sectoral budgets, reference prices, rational prescribing and user charges – have kept statutory health expenditure at the level of GDP growth. Yet, since fund revenues grew less than expenditure, sickness funds ran into deficit in most years.”

    And it is that (structural) deficit (due mainly to continuing high unemployment) that`s pushing the politicians from one “Gesundheitsreform” to the next, as they have not found a solution to keep the system afloat in times of chronic underfunding. And – thanks to the EU – it is no longer possible to cover the deficit by piling up even more debt (as the current US administration does)…

    Our beloved politicians are constantly THINKING about cost-containment measures they could apply to the health system. THINKING, that`s all. What you´describe in your post are maybe the thoughts of some second-rate member of the political establishment that will NEVER be signed into law as it it is a.) unconstitutional and b.) blatantly ignores european union standards – it would be thrown out of the German supreme court as well as be challenged by EU bodies.

    That`s also why you can`t come up with verifiable information on it.

  31. Okay, I didn’t get to read all of this discussion, but a few notes on German healthcare: Everybody who works in Germany automatically pays into the public healthcare systems through their employer. Same goes for everyone on welfare, where the state basically pays into the public healthcare… (yay, Bureaucracy!)
    There are a few people to whom neither applies, and they have to get “volontarily” insured, but seriously: I don’t even know if you can just go and pay a doctor in Germany, I somehow doubt it, except for certain procedures that aren’t seen as neccessary (for example, i had to fork out 600€ to get sterilized)
    There are about 50 different public insurances. Typically German, a whopping 80% of their income (in the form of eveyrbody’s fees) gopes into their own gigantic bureaucratic apparatus.
    There are private insurances, which provide better service, but they work differently. You have to pay all the bills and then hand them in to the insurance. So a lot of peniless students are in the absurd situation of being on their parent’s private insurance (actually something reserved for the rich or government- or self employed) and for that reason can’t afford to see a doctor….

    For years now, our government has been systematically ruining the public healthcare system (really, there’s no other way to put it)
    This brings with it a political climate of “everyone for themself”
    While the media single out welfare receivers, immigrants and other marginalized groups as the ones breaking the social net by “over using” it, the government and all public institutions try to save money where they can.

    I think the new regulation (I have no idea if it’s even in effect yet) can be seen in that context rather than a crusade against the modded subcultures.

    I was actually surprised, not to say shocked, by the German ban on BME, because both travelling and talking to people from all over the world, i keep thinking there are few better places to be modded in than Germany. Tsk.

  32. Oh and by the way: I never even heard about that law until now, but next time I see him, I’ll gladly ask my piercer :)

  33. Risk Management like that is already reality in alot of other countries. You should not forget to mention that in germany hospitals HELP and take care of EVERYONE who calls an ambulance or comes in with whatever problem. Nobody is turned down because of having no insurance or can’t pay. Plus you ALWAYS get the best care available. From my personal experience I can tell the system in the US and Thailand (these I know first hand) are WAY WORSE! Also I don’t like that speculative attitude of the article that left all the “social aspects” of the german health system out. The changes right now are bad because they only fight the symptoms and not the real problems but still germany is a safe place to live where you don’t have to fear to die just because you’re poor or temporarily out of money!

  34. Hy Shannon!
    As a German i think, that’s no fight against bodymod!
    But the germain health-system is very comfortable and is always much more difficult to finance. So it’s logical, especial riscs to finance by especial contributions. When i make mods (splitting my cock for example), i have to use many care! or have to insure before it’s done. Otherwise, if something goes wrong, i have to pay the doctors help by myself!
    At present it doesn’t still go at this way.l
    I think it’s fair, that’s the community can’t finance all our riscs, lived and practified desires, stupidities and crazy thinks!
    An IMPORTAND RULE for all body modders : Let it BLEED GOOD and ENOUGH for wound-cleaning, than you will have no or less infection!!!
    Good luck!

  35. Here’s another German thinking about that.
    I can’t tell so much about our Health Care System blah, but I think it’s rubbish. People have to pay more and more, for no visible purpose (in case I’m not too young and stupid to see that).

    Something I consider weird is that once, when I was totally drunk (not dangerously, though.), the ambulance someone called was there after about 20 minutes, but when my best friend was pregnant and had a sudden and heavy pain that made her fear she could lose her baby, we went to hospital and they told us we should go here and there and through the whole hospital, which took us ages, really. and then when we found a place they would try to find what was wrong (luckily it was nothing dangerous, but hell she suffered!!), we still had half an hour of time to wait.

    But anyway, I think that’s not it.
    I read some articles about this case and it seems, it was more about moral stuff. Naked bodies etc.. Germany’s not a country of prudes, except for some parts of the government, and that’s it, i suppose.

    A stupid action. At least BME is a way to learn about body-modding, what it can look like, what can happen etc…
    Most young people here don’t know anything. Young girls piercing themselves using a dirty safety pin just scare me.
    And you can get your ears pierced at the hairdresser’s. when i was about 7 years old, my mother told me to do that. but any other piercings “are ugly and self-destructive” she said.
    I think many people have that opinion. strange.
    A good piercer knows what he’s doing, not like a hairdresser with a piercing-gun. so that “standard-piercing” might be more of a risk than a body piercing (wherever..) done by a person knowing his/he business..

    Just random thinking, sorry.

  36. The post I am commenting is only half true. Here in Germany any doctor has to treat you if you are in an emergancy situation and even if you don´t have an insurance any public hospital has to treat you, you will just have to pay the (pricy) bill by your self. In any case all medical treatments (except some procedures at the orthodontist) are being payed for (totaly or partially) by any public insurance only the private insurances may refuse to pay for certain procedures, but you would know this, since it would be stated in your contract.

    Also if you go on and type in bmezine you will get a positive result.

  37. i don’t know much about the subject, since the health care system here is so efficient-you barely hear about it!but to all the people mentioning that smokers should pay more insurance; they do! 1 euro of every pack of cigarettes go to the public insurances.

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