Health Care in France: Not perfect, but. . . .

A first person account of the expensive French health-care system, which seems to work exactly the way Medicare works, only better because it is bigger.

The key points:

  • Everyone gets basic care as part of the package they pay for with taxes.
    Above a certain level of coverage, people pay for extra insurance to suit their situations.
    Employers sometimes provide this secondary level of coverage.
    Care is rationed so the system can sustain itself, but care is privileged according to urgency of need.
    Care is designed to more efficiently and effective use facilities, lowering cost.
    Patients must be told the cost, in advance, of all procedures that cost more than 70 euros.
    All costs are transparent.
    The French spend a lot of their GDP on caring for the society, including health care.
  • This seems so much smarter than allowing insurance companies into the part of a process in which we all implicitly share the risk. That is, the overall health costs from cradle to grave of everyone is known. We don’t know how the costs will be distributed to each family and each individual, but we know the total, which is why we spread the risk. The collective cost of the total, or rather our slice of it, should be our individual cost.

    Insurance companies know this. But they provide a service that adds little to no value to the process, and increases the cost. They make a profit, which is an additional tax we pay, and for what?

    How do we know that they increase costs without adding value? Medicare delivers similar services and costs much less.

    I’m sure that things aren’t always perfect in the French health-care system, bring your own towels, but doesn’t it make sense to craft a system that carves out wasteful players and improves our understanding of our individual health needs can be addressed with quality and at the lowest cost?

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