The Best Health Care System: Vive La France!

The World Health Organization rates the French health care system as the best in the world. This conclusion is based on a variety of factors including: low infant mortality rates;  access to care; rates of people cured of treatable diseases; and keeping people healthy and living longer.

  • According to the author of “The Healing of America”, France has more doctors and hospital beds per capita than the United States.  On average the French go to the doctor about eight times per year. Five doctor visits per year is the average for Americans.
  • French doctors are generally self-employed and medical bills are paid by not-for-profit insurance companies.  People get insurance through their employer if they have a job – but don’t lose it if they are unemployed. French insurance company overhead costs are about 5% of total revenues.  In the U.S., administrative costs for insurance companies (including profits) are generally 20% of revenue.
  • France spends about $3,165 per capita on health care and covers every citizen.  The U.S. spends more than $7,000 per capita and has 40 million uninsured citizens.
  • France spends about 10% of its GDP on health care while the US spends 17%.
  • In France everyone carries their “carte vitale” which contains all their medical records. When a patient sees a doctor, there are no paper files to consult.  The doctor puts “le carte vitale” into his computer and can see the patient’s entire medical history.  The doctor adds his information, clicks a button, and a bill is sent to the insurance company.  Voila! No paperwork to file. No bill to mail. And no confusion over what another doctor might have diagnosed or prescribed.  C’est tres simple.
  • French doctors make house calls.
  • A consultation with an orthopedic specialist costs $34 in France. The patient pays the doctor and is reimbursed 70% of the cost by his insurance company.  A visit to a specialist in the U.S. generally costs about $400.

I wish I could say the American health care reform law has drawn from the French experience with heath care, but it does not.  The health care reform legislation does promote movement toward computerized records which will reduce costs associated with too much paperwork.

The American system, with hundreds of insurance companies – each with different price schedules and approval  forms – means American medical providers will never be as efficient as their French counterparts.  French hospitals and doctors need very few administrative paper pushers. American hospitals and doctors still need a  team of non-medical staff  to handle insurance forms, prior authorization requests, billing, and denials of payments from insurance companies. This is one part of what makes medical care so expensive in the United States.  C’est dommage.

What Next?

Related Articles

12 Responses to "The Best Health Care System: Vive La France!"

  1. Ferraribubba says:

    Yea, I remember a few years back when France was suffering through a severe heat wave and the old people were dying by the thousands and the ‘Best Health Care System in the World’ sat around and did nothing. Remember? No air conditioning, even in hospitals.
    Merci! Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  2. Denise says:

    And I remember Hurricane Katrina when the most powerful country in the world left thousands of its people to die in New Orleans.   The government and the French people were ashamed of their failure to take care of their elderly and frail citizens during the heat wave.   In America, people die every day for lack of access to health care – but  we are not ashamed.

  3. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Denise: Hey Denise: Any time that you build sections of a city up to nine feet below sea-level, you’re asking for trouble, especially in areas like the 9th Ward of New Orleans, where most folks are 2nd or 3rd generation welfare people. Most have no concept of how to do anything without government help. Most didn’t have sense to get to high ground when warned before the storm hit. They had plenty of time before tyhe storm hit.
    That’s why we had hundreds, if not thousands, still living in motels, at taxpayer expense, all over the South 4 years after Katrina struck.
    I know that bank robberies went went through the roof here in Arkansas after Katrina hit. Just a coincidence? I think not.
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  4. Denise says:

    So you’re saying that the pitiful response to Katrina by the Bush administration was a conspiracy to get those poor, black, no-good criminals who lived in New Orleans?   Maybe it wasn’t a conspiracy – but actually the way our country treats the poor and those who don’t have economic power.  I’m pretty sure the French don’t like their minorities all that much (Arabs and Africans) – but still, they all get access to health care.

  5. Ferraribubba says:

    Hey Denise: Not at all. All I’m saying is that anybody with sense enough to pour pizz out of a boot before putting it on, and lives 9 feet below sea-level and is warned that a catagory 5 hurricane heading straight for his house, might want to take his family to higher ground on his own before it hits, not wait for FedGovCo to pull up a taxi, bus, or limo out front to take him to safety. It’s called using your own initiative. Something sadly lacking in the Big Easy.
    Still yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

  6. messycoffee says:

    I bet France’s maternal death rate hasn’t doubled in the last 20 years like ours here in the U.S. has.

  7. leftfield says:

    All I’m saying is that anybody with sense enough to pour pizz out of a boot before putting it on, and lives 9 feet below sea-level and is warned that a catagory 5 hurricane heading straight for his house, might want to take his family to higher ground on his own before it hits,

    Yeah, if those people in Ward Nine had any sense they would have all hopped in their Hummers or their private planes and taken an early vacation in the Hamptons. 

  8. leftfield says:

    There ain’t no way around it, FB.  What she says is the sad truth.  The powers that be have decided that corporate profits are more important than your life and health.

  9. leftfield says:

    I know that bank robberies went went through the roof here in Arkansas after Katrina hit.

    They have banks in Arkansas?  Who knew?  When are they expecting to have mail delivery and electricity?

    With all those bank robberies, Deputy Fife must have been a busy boy.

  10. Ducie says:

    Maybe France doesn’t have the healthcare tort problems like we do in the US. Nobody wants to deliver babies in the US these days and it won’t get any better anytime soon so long as Barrack Husein Obama and his Democrat ilk in congress continue to let their trial lawyer buddies pillage the healthcare system. Too bad John Edwards wasn’t elected president to go on to pass this abomination of a healthcare bill, that way we could have seen the bank robber turn into the bank manager.

  11. Bill Hilser says:

    Hey Lefty: Even in the darkest hollers’ of Arkansas, we have an old saying when danger threatens. “Foots, don’t fail me now!”
    Get it, my bomb-throwing friend?
    Yer pal, Ferrari Bubba

Leave a Reply

Submit Comment