Sunday, November 22, 2009

Government Health Care

I can't say that I've followed too closely what's going on in the US in regards to Obama's Health Care Reform, but I would like to add my own two cents being that just yesterday I had my first experience with the French Health Care System, a system run by the government. Before I left for France I heard three general arguments against universal Health Care that I would like to prove non sequitur as I believe they were derived from people who had no experience with such a system, as in France where Health Care is universal.

The reason for my visiting the doctor was to get OK-ed for joining a gym to lift weights, simple as that.

The first complaint, that in order to insure everyone we must pay exorbitant taxes. This is false, again, only within the bounds of my experience, as my salary is 980 Euros a month, of which only 120 is taken out by the government each month. A little fourth grade math will tell you that is around 12% of my earnings. These taxes cover everything they do in the states, such as roads, education, etc., AS WELL AS universal Health Care. And how much taxes do we pay in the US now, taxes that don't cover a trip to the doctor? It isn't like the quality of life in France is significantly less, in fact life here is pretty expensive compared the the US. So how does the government here afford high standards of living with less taxes? Well France did say Iraq was a bad idea. Hmmm...

Secondly, that a patient would have to be wait-listed in order to see a doctor therefore diminishing the quality of care. Again, false. I called the doctor's office Friday morning in order to make an appointment sometime in the near future only to be met with apologies on the receptionist's end that the soonest available appointment would be 7 PM that night. I failed to see the problem but from her reaction I found most people aren't even accustomed to waiting a whole day. Keep in mind too that this doctor has more than 2,200 patients, all of Toucy and the surrounding communities. I can't remember the last time I called the doctor in the US and get an appointment in less than 3 days from when I called, usually met with apathy.

Lastly, that under government-run Health Care patients lose the right to choose their own primary care physician, leading to indifferent treatment. In France this could not be farther from the truth. In fact, you can go to any doctor you damn well please. You can choose your primary care physician but that does not meant you are restricted to seeing only that doctor, with the difference being how much are reimbursed. For example, I paid 22 Euros out of pocket, of which I will be reimbursed all but about 2 Euros because this doctor I chose as my primary care physician. Now, if I chose to see another doctor who would not be considered my primary care physician, I would be reimbursed a little less, meaning I would pay about 7.50 Euros instead of 2. Still! Another plus being if I am displeased with my doctor's performance I can quite simply change doctors with no cost and no hassle, and I never have to worry if my insurance will cover it. And when you think about it, why should anyone have to worry about a company telling them who they are allowed to see? It just makes sense.

That said, there still are numerous problems with France's Health Care System but even when you add them all up it's still a fraction of those in the US. Also this is an isolated experience that cannot speak for the whole but from talking with my teachers and acquaintances here in France I do know that my experience is by far the most common. I mean you should just hear their complaints about their Health Care system, like, "I had to wait two days before I could see my doctor!" or, "I paid almost 10 Euros for that visit!" I just want to say, "Really? Are you serious France??" Try getting the same service in the US and then we can talk.

And now I'll step down from the soapbox...

No comments:

Post a Comment