From the first moment of starting to compare between the two health care systems of the United States and France, a reasonable researcher would find that extremely unfair.
The population of the United States is about 302 million whereas that of France is approximately 62 (1). Nevertheless, when a health care system starts to prevail, one has the duty to know how the advantages provided by the French were reached and how every other country can learn from that difference.
One of the funniest comments I heard from people who visited Paris last month was the comment that people in Paris are very tense because they spend roughly 20% of their income in advance for future health care. But in return, their health care system was given a descriptive term called "Liberal Universalism".
Liberal because patients get to choose their own health care providers.
Universalism because every one on the land of France is covered under the umbrella of health services, that is, health care coverage is 100%.
Another funny but aggressive comment assay that may be because France does not have for-profit insurance companies, the French government actually wants you to stay healthy and live a very nice life. Where as in the US, insurance companies are in the business of making money, and your health and best interests are put on the back burner (2).
In 2000, health care experts from the France stood out in first place. The United States ranked the 37th.tried to do a statistical ranking of the world's health care systems. They studied 191 countries and ranked them based on the number of years people lived in good health and whether everyone had access to good health care.
However, some researchers said that study was unfair, arguing that there might be metrics other than the country's health care system that determined factors like longevity. So in 2008, two researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine measured something called the "amenable mortality." Basically, it's a measure of deaths that could have been prevented with good health care. The researchers looked at health care in 19 industrialized nations. Again, France came in first. The United States was last (3).
Data collected over time as well as international comparisons reveal common trends between the two countries. Birth rates have fallen, and life expectancies have increased so that old people made up an increasing segment of total populations. In the United States, life expectancy at birth is estimated to be about 78% whereas it is 80% for France. Infant and maternal mortalities, the international indicators of social and health care improvement, have continued to decline in the United States but haven't reached the more appreciated levels of countries with more demographically homogenous populations like France. Some researchers claim that the American health system has some ambiguous priorities that allow discrepancies in infant mortality rates between inner city and suburban neighborhoods, that are more pronounced even than in those between some developed and developing countries (4).
My Next Topic : Healthcare from the US to France: Money talks a lot
- Health care from the US to France: An introduction
(1). Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, the Commonwealth Fund and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Most data from 2005, the latest available. More recent data used, when available.
(2). Steffen M., 2010. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 35, No. 3, June 2010 DOI 10.1215/03616878-2010-003 (c) 2010 by Duke University Press
(3). Differential Diagnoses: A Comparative History of Health Care Problems and Solutions in the United States and France. Copyright 2007 by Paul V. Dutton.
(4). U.S. Bureau of the Census. Facts about Aging. Available from http://www.census.gov/population/www/projections/natproj.html Accessed August 2012.