I sat this week and watched a piece on France-24 (an English language French channel). They ran a 10-minute piece on the French healthcare system. I found it kinda interesting.
First, something you ought to be surprised by.....most French people (probably over 90-percent) are very happy with the French healthcare system. It's reasonable. It pays doctors on time. Drugs are reasonable. And everyone in the country has a card, and can be seen with that one single card.
So how does it work?
The cost deal is 8-percent of your income, and your employer is paying 13-percent...so you can figure 21-percent of whatever you make....is your contribution into the bucket. For those on some allowance or pension.....roughly 4.0-percent. For that, the gov't covers 70-percent of the cost when you walk into a clinic. You pay 30-percent. Unhappy about the remaining 30-percent from your pocket? There are various 30-percent fill-in insurance packages that you can buy from a 3rd party company. These fill-in deals? Most run to around 50-to-60 Euro per month. I should note....some dental work and glasses would come from this commercial insurance package....but NOT from the normal healthcare package (something that you note).
The general cost when you step into the doctor's office or clinic? Roughly 23-Euro ($28). So low? Yeah, and that really tells half of the whole story in strict control of profits and salaries for doctors or hospitals. Adding to this is the fact that doctors have the ability to limit tests.....so no one is making up profits from secondary 'products'.
Because of this control....a simple act like teeth cleaning....is only 30-odd Euro (est at $37).
Everyone in the system? Yes.....you have no choice. Even foreigners who arrive (like Americans who want to retire in France).....they will have to get the card.
Computerized? That is a major part of the deal. You walk into the typical French clinic and there's a scanner. You slap your card (which has your picture) onto the machine....it asks you for a couple of details on your ailment or pain, and you get a number. It's all tracked. If you were showing up at multiple clinics for pain-medication? The system will ID you.
Preventative exams? All part of the deal. They want you to come in early and be seen, and if you have issues.....to be worked prior to them being major problems.
The negative of the system, with so many happy people? Year by year....it costs more. And the French government is starting to pass the hat around to regular tax revenue.....to push funds in to prevent escalation of the 21-percent deal on you and your employer. Will this get worse? Yes, no one says otherwise. But it's all hidden and rarely talked about among political figures.
Would it work in the US? The problem would be control of rates and salaries/profits among hospitals. The other issue is that so many US locations are rural in nature and it'd be hard to ensure 4-star treatment/options across the whole board to all Americans at the cost that France has.