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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Frenchcare not Freedomfries

US spending percapita on health spending was twice that of France( $7290 vs $3602). The French live 4 years longer than us, don't have healthcare rationing, have universal coverage of all, and don't go bankrupt because of health problems as in the USA. Where does the extra $3600 percapita the USA spends on healthcare go?

The table that accompanied a CBO analysis of buying insurance in the the Baucus for- profit exchange plan gives you a clue. It would cost $14,400 for family coverage with no government subsidies. Compare this to the $8300 for the federal employee Blue Cross Basic plan with employee and government premiums totaled. So the exchange option will cost over $6000 more. WHY?

For French, U.S. Health Debate Hard To Imagine
But National Insurance Faces New Challenges

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

MARSEILLE, France -- When Jean-Louis Aloy could no longer walk comfortably among his olive trees in the hills above Marseille, he knew the time had come. Bowing to doctor's orders, he checked in to a hospital for a long-delayed back operation.
Despite the prospect of an expensive two-week hospital stay, Aloy, 58, did not worry. France's national health insurance, supplemented by a private policy for co-payments, covered the entire bill -- from doctor's fees to medication to a private room with a view -- and Aloy would not even know the total.
"All I have to do is fill out some papers and send them off to the insurance company," he said during a smoke break on a sunny terrace in front of the hospital two days after the surgery.
France has long been proud of its national health insurance, part of a many-tentacled and costly social protection system designed to embrace almost everyone who is legally in the country. Most French people have grown up with the idea that the government is the ultimate guarantor of health care, even for people who cannot afford to pay. The concept has become so ingrained over the past half-century that it is an untouchable part of the political landscape, making the debate over President Obama's proposals in Washington and the fading chances for a public option seem, in the words of the newspaper Le Monde, "altogether surreal."
But the fast-rising cost of drugs and medical care, particularly for the elderly in their final days, has raised the question of how long France can afford the health care it has come to expect. Seeking to beat back rising deficits, the government has reduced the reimbursement rate for many medicines and routine medical services, opening a growing market for private insurance policies, called mutuals, to cover the steadily increasing co-payments.
Without abandoning the bedrock of health care for all, therefore, the French system has begun to evolve toward something resembling Medicare, the health insurance for older people in the United States, except that it covers people of all ages. The shift is regarded as inevitable, specialists said, but increasingly it is raising the delicate question of how much the government will be forced to resort to even higher co-payments in the years ahead.


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