People have been bringing up the French health care system as a great model to emulate ever since muckraker Michael Moore did his movie Sicko. That chick Kathy was claiming how awesome it was in her Glenn Beck freakout call that I linked to the other day. So, I decided to check it out and it turned out to be pretty much what I thought it was going to be. A bloated, bureaucratic black hole of taxes that has managed to commoditize general healthcare while depending on the private sector for specialization. The best way to do this might be to make a sort of pro and con chart. That might make everything a little easier to follow. I took most of this information from a study titled Health Care Under French National Health Insurance.
First off, the pro’s:
- Almost 100% coverage to all citizens.
- Total freedom with regards to choosing which doctor to use.
- Reimbursement for almost all medical expenses with a small co-pay.
This might sound like a panacea. It does. And that’s exactly what made me suspicious. This is all you hear about when it comes to “analyzing” the french system. But these pro’s virtually wilt under the weight of the con’s the incur. I remember hearing a few years back that France is so restrictive of private industry that they only allow retailers to have sales once or twice per year. How in the world could a government that oppressive to private business have anything worth emulating, except fries. Judge for yourself:
- 20% Income Tax going solely to health care
- Commoditized general practice health care with few specialists.
- Large, perpetual budget deficits.
- A mammoth, multi-level bureaucracy of different plans
And this is what you get when you have universal health care run by a central government. Crushing deficits, huge bureaucracies, and loads of taxes. If that’s what the French are willing to put up with for the sake of universal coverage then more power to them. I’m not. I think free health care is called charity. And, by definition, if it’s forced, then it’s no longer charity. The church should be providing low cost health care to the underprivileged as a ministry. Not the government. Central government can’t do anything efficiently. Let alone something as complex as health care. And the cost is un-godly:
To finance benefits under French national health insurance for the 80 percent of the population covered by the CNAMTS, employers pay 12.8 percent of the wage bill, and employees pay 6.9 percent of their full salary, bringing the total payroll tax for health insurance to 19.7 percent of all wages.
The funds raised by mandatory payroll taxes finance 74 percent of personal health expenditures in France. The remainder is financed by the central government, by patients’ out-of-pocket payments, and by an elaborate range of private insurance schemes offering complementary insurance coverage. Eighty-four percent of the French population has private complementary health insurance coverage provided by commercial or nonprofit (mutual aid society) insurers. Paradoxically, despite universal coverage in France, although aggregate out-of-pocket payments are 16 percent in comparison with 23.3 percent in the United States, for specific categories such as hospital and physician services, the percentage of out-of-pocket payments is actually higher in France than in the United States.
That’s all you need to know. It takes a full 20% payroll tax just dedicated to health insurance, and it still only covers 75% of the population. Health insurance doesn’t cost anywhere near that in the United States under the system we have now. If you’re single, you can get a policy for about $300 a month on average. Family coverage costs a lot more than that at about $900-$1000 per month. But the French lesson is that under a universal system singles will have to jump up to paying just as much as families. Where is the savings in all this? How is this going to help anybody at all?