From France, Wine and Cheese, and Health Care?
As I read daily about what is supposed to be health care reform I despair. It seems that nothing good is coming from the efforts of Congress to reform our present system.
It seems rather that whatever happens is going to be more of our present costly and inefficient model, representing the powerful interests of the current providers, the doctors and insurers, and not the interests of taxpayers and the insured/uninsured.
Furthermore, although all the talk in Washington is about keeping the costs down, there are no proposals out there that would do this.
Instead by its criminal failure to address this problem Congress is putting off onto future generations of Americans that day of reckoning which will come, when the costs of medical care can’t be met and more and more people than the present 50 million uninsured will go without essential services.
And throughout all these goings on in the Congress the no-nothings on the right accuse President Obama of wanting to turn the United States into something more like Germany or Belgium, worst of all, France — a “social democracy” where, according to these voices on the right, spreading the wealth around, or redistribution, is the government’s main concern.
The irony here is that France might very well be the one health care model that we could adopt in our country and to everyone’s advantage. By the numbers alone it works. France spends $2,401 per capita on health, while the US spends $4,497 (almost double!). In return, life expectancy is 68.1 in the US, 71.5 in France. Infant mortality: 4 per 1000 in France, and 7 per 1000 in the US. And maternal mortality: 8.8 in France, and 10.5 in the US.
The World Health Organization rated the French system the best in the world in 2001 because of its universal coverage, responsive healthcare providers, patient and provider freedoms, and the health and longevity of the country’s population. In that same ranking the United States ranked 37.
The French system has much to recommend it. In particular the French share Americans’ distaste for restrictions on patient choice and they insist on autonomous private practitioners rather than a British-style national health service, which the French dismiss as “socialized medicine.”
It is true that the French doctors make less money, but the lower incomes are considerably allayed by two factors. Practice liability is greatly diminished by a tort-averse legal system, and medical schools, although extremely competitive to enter, are tuition-free.
For a more complete comparison treatment of health care in France and America go to Paul V. Dutton’s book, “Differential Diagnoses: A Comparative History of Health Care Problems and Solutions in the United States and France.”
For this Blog posting I have drawn substantially on Dutton’s Boston Globe op ed piece of 8/11/2007. Much of the above is taken from that writing.Explore posts in the same categories: Paris