The French Healthcare Explained to the Americans (in a nutshell)
Last night, Sean Hannity had a special entitled “Universal Nightmare” during which he lashed against socialized and single-payers of Canada, Britain and France. It must be noted, for starter, that, contrary to what MrHannity said, France does NOT have a single payer system. France utilizes a mix of government and market-based systems.
It should also be noted that most of those private insurers are actually non-profit mutual insurers (referred to as “mutuelle” in French) and so no one is denied insurance (on the ground of pre-existing conditions or other) and no one is asked about their medical background. Those who can’t afford private insurance have "universal health coverage".
99% of French residents are covered by the national health insurance scheme and about 92% of French residents have complementary private “mutuelles”.
Most of the funding is from a 13.55% payroll tax (employers pay 12.8%, individuals pay 0.75%). There is a 5.25% general social contribution tax on income as well. Thus, there is an approximately a 18.8% on employees for health insurance. There are also dedicated taxes which are assessed on tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical company revenues. (source Healthcare Economist)
There is no waiting list and if you go to the Emergency, and if you are seriously ill, you’ll be taken care of immediately without filling in papers or being asked anything. (however, if you go to the ER for something minor, you may have to wait for a while).
This is not to say that the system is perfect - its greatest drawback is cost :
France’s medical costs have been rising sharply, which has led to higher taxes on employers and workers and the national insurance system has been running deficits since 1985 — it currently stands at $13.5 billion. (Wall Street Journal)
Access to health care appears to have produced a healthier nation: France’s infant death rate is 3.9 per 1,000 live births, compared with seven per 1,000 in the U.S.. The country has more hospital beds and doctors per capita than the U.S., and a markedly lower rate of mortality from respiratory disease. And France spends less (10.7% of gross domestic product) on health care than the U.S. (16% of GDP). (WSJ)