Did you know...the term Health Care Provider came from Nazi Germany?

Phil Goldfarb

As a 4th generation pharmacist, I did not know this until recently and was somewhat taken aback by the routine use of this term.  I thought that it might be of interest to everyone.

Read this excellent perspective titled: If You Call Me a Provider, I Will Assume You are a Nazi. https://thedeductible.com/2019/02/08/if-you-call-me-a-provider-i-will-assume-you-are-a-nazi/ There was also an excellent article in The Israel Medical Journal on the same subject: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/9684/f277d886cac9f67784911df2c875186bf484.pdf 

Phil Goldfarb

I am sorry. I should have added that most physicians detest the name provider. Now you can see why!

Phil Goldfarb
President JGS of Tulsa

LEET (LIT): Radeikiai, Lithuania
GITOW (GITOVITCH): Belarus & Ukraine
MERIN: Belarus
GRUBER: Austria
BRAUN: Lithuania

Véronique Chaudanson

What I know is that Bismarck's model of health insurance was the first introduced in Germany. In the 1880's. (https://pphr.princeton.edu/2017/12/02/unhealthy-health-care-a-cursory-overview-of-major-health-care-systems/)

As Nazis didn't usually speak English, what is the German term for "health care provider" which is supposed to have been introduced by the Nazis? There are indeed, very unfortunately, Nazi terms that haven't been wiped from the German language after the war, but several German translations come to my mind for "health care provider". The article claiming the Nazi link doesn't even mention once the German word supposed to be the basis of this affirmation. Did you find it somewhere else?

joannegrosman joannegrosman

In the article it mentions the term (German) Behandler for provider.
Joanne Grosman
researching Grosman, Bocian, Kremsdorf

Andreas Schwab

"Behandler" does not mean "Provider." "Behandeln" (verb) = to treat. "Behandler" (noun), one who treats, caregiver. The latter is not a normal word in the German language, but an ad hoc derivation especially invented for the purpose of humiliating those who had earned a legitimate professional licence as physicians but were despised bu the Nazis. 
The author of the original article cited, Paul Saenger MD, used "provider" as a translation for "Behandler" because he did not come up with a proper translation of the term. He should have used "caregiver", but unfortunately, he did not know better. An unfortunate but excusable mistake. The author of the 2019 article, Niran Al-Agba, uses this wrong translation in order to denounce the term "provider". He first makes the (wrong) connection of the word "Provider" with the Nazi tyranny, but then denounces the word for entirely different reasons that have to do with the lamentable state of the US health system that has transformed health care into a business venture. He thus is unwillingly extending the denigration brought about by the Nazis to physicians, nurses and other professional in the health care system of English-speaking nations.
Seeking the origin of the word "provider" in the term "health care provider" in Nazi Germany is a fallacy. Although I cannot attest to the origin of the term, the earliest occurrence I have found is in a book published in 1975 [1], at a time where the US health care system was not yet as business-oriented as it is today. Even if the term "health care provider" is not ideal, it has been ingrained into the English language and is probably here to stay. It is not by changing this term that the US health care system can be reformed and humanized.
[1] "Basic Pediatrics for the Primary Health Care Provider", by Catherine DeAngeli, Little, Brown, 1975.

joannegrosman joannegrosman

I have followed with interest the thread to do with the word 'Behandler' and the allusion to Nazi provenance. I work within the healthcare system in Canada where so far insurance companies don't hold too much sway and must say that this term is widely used as one of writers stated for brevity reasons alone as much healthcare is delivered in a team context. It seems the explanation for 'Behandler' having Nazi origins adds weight to any argument decrying the quality of care in the healthcare system.

Joanne Grosman
researching Grosman, Bocian, Kremsdorf/Czestochowa/Radmonsko


This thread is one of the most interesting and stimulating in a long time. And, in my view, it is directly related to genealogy. I happen to be more interested in learning about our ancestors’ lives and times than in, e.g. exact spelling of the ggggfather’s name. In that regard, the occupations such as synagogue sexton, or a grave digger, that we see so often in the records from Russian Poland, are far more descriptive than a “daily laborer” which leaves us dissatisfied and wanting to know more.


Words have meaning. “Doctor” is still synonymous with “healer”, evoking great respect for the profession. Imagine an unknown descendent 200 years from now learning that his ancestor was a “health care provider”.  Will he jump up and down from joy, or will he curse his early 21st century ancestors who replaced normal language with meaningless bureaucratic constructs?


The next time you walk in a “show room” looking for a “certified pre-own” “gas-guzzler” and a “consultant” greets you with “Welcome Guest”...

... please finish the sentence...

Boris Feldblyum


As a medical social worker in the 1970s, I always understood the term "provider" to be a catchall that included doctors, nurses, physician assistants, social workers, mental health counselors, physical therapists and others, mostly used by insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.  

Frankly, even if it were true that the term originated in nazi Germany, I think that would be no more than an interesting bit of trivia.  It's how we use the word now that matters. 
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC