I've had it up to here with people misrepresenting the French health care system. As the U.S. discusses the kind of country it wants to be when it comes to providing its citizens with access to medicine, doctor's visits, and life-saving surgery, France is often used as a bogeyman. "Ooooh, watch out, we might turn into France! We might become Socialists!" As my second favorite country's name gets dragged through the mud, I can't help thinking about my own experience with health care in France. It wasn't perfect, but it certaintly wasn't the nightmare some people would lead you to believe.
As a graduate student at Sciences Po in Paris, I was covered under the French health care system. I paid the equivalent of $300 for the semester, which granted me comprehensive coverage. During this time, I went to a doctor's office three times and got lab work done once. I never waited longer than one waits in an American doctor's office, the facilities were not sub-standard, and the government didn't come between me and my doctor. No piles of paperwork to fill out (like I have in the U.S.). No worrying about whether or not my insurance would cover it (like I do in the U.S.). I simply chose the physician I wanted to see (none of this in-group, out-group crap), paid a few small fees (generally 22 euros for a visit, much of which was refundable), got my instructions or prescriptions from the doctor and went on with my life. The security of it all felt amazing.
Of course, no system is without flaw. I do remember the incident of the laboratoire misplacing my payment record for some lab work I had done. They kept sending bills to my apartment long after I was back in the states, and a French friend eventually had to go pay the bill for me, but hey, shit happens. The cost of said lab work? About 20 euros. For lab work, people! Does this sound like a terrible system to you? I know, I know, French people pay taxes to get this stuff. That's true, they do. But the French people I know, who are roughly my age, and who are employed, and who have the same level of education as I do are not crippled under the weight of taxes. They drive nice cars, go on three week vacations (leaving them still with two weeks or more for the year), live in comfortable apartments, and aren't saddled with thousands upon thousands of dollars of student loan debt. They also will never go bankrupt because they get sick. Wow, aren't you glad we don't have that system?