OPINION: I survived universal health care

I’m not a health-care expert or a congresswoman, so I can’t claim any authority on the proposed health care plan that has so many Americans riled.
I have, however, had the opportunity to live in a country with a nationalized heath-care system and, you know what, it wasn’t that bad. It was great, actually.
For three years (2000-2003) I lived and worked in France, where I enjoyed access to doctors, medicines and treatments that I found comparable to those offered in the United States.
The only difference that I saw was the price. The government capped the fees most family physicians could charge at about 25 euros per visit. Insurance companies covered preventative and alternative treatments. Name-brand prescription drugs were obscenely cheap, even out of pocket.
Through my employer, I had health insurance called a “mutuelle” that picked up about 30 percent of my medical bills. The French universal health-insurance program, called “Sécurité Sociale,” picked up the rest of the tab.
I didn’t have major medical problems while living there, but I did go to the doctor for things like the flu, a skin condition, an infection and an injured shoulder. It worked just like it does here: I called my doctor, made an appointment, showed up, got care, said thanks and left.
Appointments were either available the same day or within the week – no months-long waits like you hear about elsewhere. The doctors I saw were professional and courteous, as well as knowledgeable about their craft.
I also got a prescription for weekly massages for my shoulder – all covered by insurance and the government. That was nice.
Drug prescriptions were filled at one of the numerous pharmacies that dot the main streets throughout France. Contrary to the big-box pharmacies here, those in France do not sell sugary soda or fattening candy – you know, the kind of stuff that can cause health problems down the road. The French pharmacies sell drugs, and that’s pretty much it.
The only time I went to a hospital in France was to witness the birth of my sister-in-law’s first child. The hospital was no different from the ones here, and the procedures seemed pretty similar, too. There were nurses and doctors and clean beds and sanitized instruments.
I’m not saying America should copy France in devising a new health-care system, but it pains me to hear Americans trash the French for their universal care. Never once in France did the doctors accidentally bill me twice, charge me for services I did not receive or screw up a test – all of which happened to me personally in America.
It’s not for nothing that France earned a nod from the World Health Organization for providing “the best overall health care system in the world.”
And America? It ranked 37th.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com. Also read Emily’s blog, The Government Grind, at NEMS360.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

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