Monday, February 26, 2007

sick in a foreign country...

No worries... it's just a head/chest cold. But it does make one think... what would it be like to be sick in a foreign country?

Well, about 10 years ago I was living/studying in Italy and got caught in the middle of an outbreak of the Australian Flu. (I found this link to a 1998 college paper from Montana that speaks about it.) But before I left for Italy, I had to have proof of acceptable insurance from the States that would work in Italy in case of emergency (all translated to Italian, of course) and got a list of doctors I could call for the small things. So, when I got sick, I called the cute British Doctor that looked like Hugh Grant, who came and made a home visit for 50 Lira (about $35 US at the time) and proceeded to run to the pharmacy down the street for me and quarantined us all to the flat for 5 days. (Funny side note, I knew one girl that called him at least once a week to have him look at her for anything she could think of... till she found out he was married. Hehehe.) This scenario was not that horrible. I had friends that sent books and orange juice up the elevator for us. So, it all seemed to work out well.

But what if I got sick in France... really sick. Well, seeing I'm just laying in bed, why not do a little research!!!

France has a Socialized Medical System. Which basically means that between taxes (of purchases and taken out of paychecks, etc) pay the majority of the every persons healthcare system. I found these statistics/descriptions on the French Embassy in the US website,

"In France, health insurance is a branch of the Social Security system. It is funded by workers’ salaries (60 percent of the fund), by indirect taxes on alcohol and tobacco and by direct contribution paid by all revenue proportional to income, including retirement pensions and capital revenues. On the surface, it appears that health insurance reimburses medical care providers less in France than in other European countries. However, more than 80 percent of French people have supplemental insurance, often provided by their employers. The poorest have free universal healthcare, which is financed by taxes. Additionally, the treatment costs for those who suffer from long-term illnesses are completely reimbursed."

Now, there has been many attempts to start a National Health Care System in America, but have always been shot down (i.e., the National Healthcare Reform suggested by former President Bill Clinton... that was rejected.) I've been reading that many Americans are hesitant about Socialized Medicine because it holds negative connotations of ideas like Communism. Actually, one article I pulled up from Washington Monthly, while editorializing an article from The Economist on the French Health Care System, says...

"So why not adopt it? Well, that would be socialized medicine. Can't have that, can we? After all, everyone knows that when you socialize something it automatically declines slowly into anarchy and uselessness. Right?"

I have a feeling that is what many Americans feel about the idea of Socialized Medicine. But knowing an American here in France that had a recent experience with the French Medical System, said it was nothing but helpful. They said the emergency room was clean, the wait was short, and the doctors were attentive. And when you are done, you are discharged... and it is all free. Very interesting... huh?

Okay, enough of me researching/ discussing random topics... I'll leave that to Sal. After I finish my warm baguette with jam and Nutella and take a nap, I'll update again with pretty pictures. And we know that's what keeps you all coming back!!!

1 comment:

Julius said...

From Krugman's recent column in the NYT:

Incidentally, while insurers are very good at saying no to doctors, hospitals and patients, they're not very good at saying no to more powerful players. Drug companies, in particular, charge much higher prices in the United States than they do in countries like Canada, where the government health care system does the bargaining. McKinsey estimates that the United States pays $66 billion a year in excess drug costs, and overpays for medical devices like knee and hip implants, too.

To put these numbers in perspective: McKinsey estimates the cost of providing full medical care to all of America's uninsured at $77 billion a year. Either eliminating the excess administrative costs of private health insurers, or paying what the rest of the world pays for drugs and medical devices, would by itself more or less pay the cost of covering all the uninsured. And that doesn't count the many other costs imposed by the fragmentation of our health care system.

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