Health: The Healthcare System in France

The Story:

France is in the midst of electing a new President. Now, between the fist and the second round of the election, may be a good time to check in on the healthcare system of that country.

The Basics:

The French system is one of universal healthcare for all legal residents largely though not entirely funded by government national health insurance. The government sets premium levels on the basis of income. It also fixes prices for goods and services. Participation is compulsory.

There are market elements to the system. Most physicians in France are in private practice, and many hospitals are private for-profit institutions. Patients in most cases are responsible for paying a percentage of costs for medical treatment or prescription drugs and other items.

There are also private insurance companies in the system, and they pay a high share of the expenditure of certain products and services, including prostheses (21.9%), drugs (18.6%) and dental care (35.9%).

In a 2000 assessment, the World Health Organization said that France provides the “best overall health care” on the globe.

In Pill Form:

Although reforms are regularly proposed and debated, the broad outlines of the system are not a matter of political controversy in France, not even by a candidate for President sometimes considered outside the mainstream, as is Marine Le Pen.

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