Tuesday, August 23, 2011

From MICRODOT



J.O.B. asked me to write a little about my personal experience and impressions of the differences between American Health care and French Health care. I am an American citizen, and an ex Toledo resident, married to a naturalized French Citizen. I have the equivalent of a "Green Card" here, a Carte Du Sejour. I pay taxes in America and also in France. I am a property owner her. I earn money in America and in France and have never been a recipient of "welfare", except for a few months on unemployment in the USA over a 35 year working period. I have relatives in the health care industry in America and have seen some pretty bizarre health care related legal nightmares unfold involving the interface of malpractice/government redtape and the legal system. I believe America is facing a real health care crisis that is affecting the over all quality of life of a majority of the population. Maybe this begins to explain why:

I worked for a railroad in Toledo in the 1970's and was a Union Member. I did have health care benefits, but I never had to take advantage of them. Later, I moved to NYC and worked for a small company as a graphic designer. The company had a good small business health insurance provider and in the early 90's, I was hospitalized for a week and thank my lucky stars for the coverage.

When I saw the bills that the insurance had covered for hospital, treatment and subsequent tests, I was floored by the astronomical amount that my insurance covered for a relatively minor illness. As a child, I grew up in a family that was literally destroyed by illness. My mother died of multiple sclerosis after a 6 year decline. My father worked for Chrysler and had insurance at the time, but he still was saddled with bills that remained unpaid at the time of his death a few years later. We were an average white collar middle class family impoverished by catastrophic illness.

Subsequently, I always held the viewpoint that the best way to stay healthy was to stay away from doctors. When I left my full time design job in New York, I became a self employed free lancer. I was offered a co pay insurance from old insurer. It would have cost about 300 bucks a month. This was the period about 12 years ago that I first started to live between the USA and France.

Luckily, I was in pretty good health. I really could not afford the 300 dollar a month insurance. From what I gather from my friends and relatives, that amount isn't very steep. My brother in law in California seems to be very proud that he is only paying 1000 bucks a month.

This reflects the basically out of control health care system in America. Over billing, the profit on drugs, the doctors charges, at the cost of administration of the system itself as well as the salaries of the insurance CEO's, the advertising and of course the political lobbying are all charges that are passed on to you, the consumer.

The problem is that to reform a system as embedded and corrupt as America's would entail destroying it and rebuilding it. When I first moved here, I saw a doctor for simple things like getting tetanus shots after I was treated for physical injury. I live in a very rural location and tetanus is big concern!

I was first amazed that my visits to my local doctor were 20 Euros cash...I was not covered by any system at the time. I was given a prescription for a tetanus shot dose, which entailed me going to my local pharmacy and buying the vial there, which I brought back to the doctor and he gave me the shot.

I have had a life long asthma condition which flares up from time to time. I ended up having to see a doctor for it a few years ago and again the office visit was 20 Euros and the cost of the prescriptions run me about 250 Euros a year. When I had the problem which caused me to seek treatment, I had an emergency visit from a doctor at my house on a Sunday afternoon which cost me 40 Euros!

Presently, I am enrolled in the French Medical System. Now that I am an official resident, I have a Carte Vitale which has a computer chip in it. When I go to thedoctors, the card get swiped and I pay, but I get reimbursed by the government for 18 Euros. So now, my doctors visits cost me 2 Euros. The same with prescription drugs. I pay up front, the card get swiped, the bill go to the Medical Administration which approves the transaction and I get reimbursed and end up paying 2 Euros for each prescription filled. I payed around 250 Euros a year before I was enrolled in the system, now I pay perhaps 10.

But, I do have "insurance" instead of insurance companies here, we have what are called Mutuals...when you go to hospital, you are guaranteed treatment, no matter who you are. The Mutual covers anything above the basic level. The Mutual also reimburses the 2 dollar fee which you pay on prescriptions and doctor visits. My Mutual de Perigord policy costs me 18 Euros a month.

The government cover most basic dental work as well. I have a great dentist in a town called Vergt. Before I was covered by the government, most basic procedures cost me about 20 Euros a visit. My dentist has a state of the art clinic and is a swell guy to boot. Before I was covered in fact, he once took payment in a few bottles of Wine from the Chateau Vieux Chevrol, where i work. I am also covered by agricultural workers insurance when I work at Vieux Chevrol. The amount of coverage guaranteed by the French System is based on income. If you are unemployed and have no income, you cannot be denied medical treatment. Because of the administrative system and the basic difference in approach to medical treatment, the over all costs of the system per person is much lower than in America. I would say the basic difference is emphasis on the philosophy of prevention and the regional organization of treatment. No matter how you cut it, the over all health here is much better statistically than much of the rest of the world. You have the right to free screening. All senior citizens are notified to come in if they want for a full range of diagnostic tests. This is why France has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world. There is prenatal and post natal care. Parents are guaranteed maternity leave. Senior citizens have a wide range of services provided to keep them independent and out of care centers. Of course the basic responsibility for health rests with the individual, recognizing that health care and access to health care services is a human right and not a privilege goes a long way to insuring a population stays healthy and productive.

24 comments:

  1. I think we should all thank Mic for taking the time to post this

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  2. Microdot,

    I will probably not agree with you on much, but I do want to say I feel for you on the loss of your mother. I lost my mother to colon cancer way too early. She had about a three year battle, and it was not very dignified way to die. I can imagine your mothers illness to be awful to endure, for her and those that love her.

    I think the main thing wrong with the American healthcare system is the existence of insurance. You touched on that in your essay. Insurance adds a lot of middlemen to the mix.

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  3. Microdot- thank you very much for that most revealing and personal post. You clearly presented a sharp comparison between the two 'systems' of health care [or illness expenditures].

    I have many relatives in Germany and they tell me of a similarly great health care system. My cousin who has diabetes stays in the hospital for one week each year while his level of insulin tolerance is examined. Another cousin had surgery and was sent to a wellness spa for two weeks for recovery afterward. They know what wellness is.

    My son spent 24 days in a hospital here in Ohio two weeks ago and underwent 2 surgeries. He was sent home with an infected incision and was barely able to walk to our car to take him back to his house. He has a visiting nurse 2x day to clean out his wounds.

    How much would you guess will be his bill for all of this? Astronomical? $200,000? The bill hasn't arrived, but if his wife hadn't good [paid] coverage from her workplace, they would have had to sell their house and move in with us! Additionally, as he is a self-employed contractor, he lost 30 days of pay.

    I notice the comment above from a far-right Tea Party adherent: I will probably not agree with you on much

    In other words, in his narrow and parochial political world, this smacks of 'socialism.' He has some unnatural revulsion for anything that smells like 'the common Welfare.'

    Yet, remarkably [even stunning!] he states, I think the main thing wrong with the American healthcare system is the existence of insurance.

    GULP! BLINK! What else can I say about this????

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  4. Mud,

    Your son was sent home with an infected incision, yet the doctors and hospital will still charge you for his care. In any other business, if the cause of the damage is due to piss poor performance, the business covers the expense of fixing the damage. If an electrician wires something wrong and burns down your house, he pays for it. Why are doctors and hospitals allowed to get away with poor performance while overcharging for everything? The answer is insurance.

    I hope your son gets better.

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  5. Well, one basic issue we all seem to agree on is the inflated and corrupt influence of insurance on health care in America. But, that is just the most obvious part of the iceberg above the water.
    It would seem to me that health care systems that work and are equitable, two factors have been the diving force. I wrote recently about the Rwandan system and now France. What do they have in common? Both countries survived catastrophic upheavals. After WW2, France had to rebuild itself and when the Socialists came to power under Mitterand, they were able to rebuild the system, practically from the bottom up and there was a mandate for Socialist change after the fall of DeGaulle in 68.
    Rwanda had pretty much decimated itself socially and economically in the tribal massacres that occurred in the early 90's. In other words, there was blank slate so to speak and a desire for socially responsible change.
    The problem in America is the corporate hegemony and the fractured regional system of the American Republic.
    I would say, 10th Generation, that you have a very narrow perspective as far as the overall view of national welfare, the health of your republic, so to speak. The insurance companies are part of the overall bloated system that enables the health care system to work so well for those who can afford the best, but fail so miserably for the rest of the population.
    Insurance is part of the solution to the equation you pose in your last comment, but to be fair, only a brick in the wall. They might be enablers, so to speak. You might be an unwitting enabler in your own self larceny as well.

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  6. Mr.10th...then what would you propose as an alternative to American Corporate Insurance? How would you eliminate it? What would you do to rebuild the system if it could be eliminated?
    What do you think about the influence of lobbyists on the ability of of legislatures to effect reform? Don't you think it is more than the insurance industry that inflates the cost of American health care?
    My point about the philosophy, the basic methodology of American Health care being a system of catastrophic intervention rather than systematic prevention, I believe is a valid, basic point. As I said in my piece, the government in France does not compel you to go to a doctor for for diagnostic evaluations, there are no Health Police....but the opportunity is granted on so many levels and if there is a problem, then there is a solution that is available to you, no matter how poor you are.
    I have another story, I have a very old friend who is an artist living in Chicago, from Toledo who came here for a visit in the late 90's. hile he was here with his girl friend from Paris, we all became concerned about his physical state. He had been suffering from fatigue for quite a while and it became pretty obvious here. His girlfriend insisted he go to Perigueux to see a doctor. The doctor examined him and told him he needed treatment immediately. He had been avoiding the issue in America because he could not even begin to think of not working and the expense of even going to a doctor.
    He ended up in the hospital in Perigueux where he was diagnosed with a heart problem that if left untreated would have become critical fast. He was in the hospital, treated and tested for a week. He told the doctors that he had no insurance and didn't know how he would pay them. They told him that was not their problem or his. The only problem was treating him.
    He left the hospital...they treated him very well, an American who spoke no French...with a diagnosis and prescription to give to his doctors in America. They worked out a payment plan with him that took him 3 years to pay off comfortably...it was under 2,000 bucks USD for the tests, diagnosis, treatments and a weeks hospital stay....

    What do you make of this seeming altruistic socialist humanitarian system? Do you think France is a subversive influence and should be bombed now?

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  7. Microdot,

    I do agree that insurance is not the whole problem, but I believe it is a large part of it. I have visited several doctors who were aparently unaware of how much their services cost. Their office managers are in charge of billing, and set the rates. I paid $365 for "3" stitches in one of my childrens eyelid. When the doctor finally got around to my daughter (the only one in the "urgent" care that was bleeding) he commenced to put in a running stitch. Now I'm just a dumb grunt, but I know that a running stitch leaves a bigger scar than individual stitches. So I told the doctor I could have put in a running stitch (I sew up lots of injured animals) but I came to a "professional" to avoid a huge scar on my little girls eyelid. He tried to lie to me and tell me that the running stitch was better for scarring.

    A lot of doctors think that no one who isn't a doctor is smart enough to know what's going on. I have yet to meet a doctor that was "smarter" than me (a scary thought), but I have met a bunch that admitted that I must have really picked up a lot in 10th grade biology.

    I grew up in a socialized healthcare system. My family doctor growing up was the US Navy. I am currently in a socialized healthcare system, the VA. Neither is very effective, or even well run. The administrative side of both systems is very screwed up, while the actual healthcare side is very concerned with providing decent care. The egghead bean counters are the ones that drive up costs, and they are also the ones who don't provide service.

    I will admit, I don't know the answer, but I do not like the idea of subsidized healthcare. As with all other subsidies, it takes money from people who produce wealth to give to people who don't produce wealth. That is unsustainable, and will eventually crash. And in this country right now, no one is producing much wealth.

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  8. Microdot,

    I think the man would have been treated at an American hospital. His bill would have been between $2000 and $10,000. If he had dependents, he might have qualified for medicaid, although being a man is a detriment when applying for that. I think the real bill in France was probably higher than $2000. That was probably just the "unsubsidized" portion.

    I dislike lobbyists in any design. They are a major problem. I cannot think of anything they have done that is positive.

    It is my experience that the poorer you are in America, the less problems you have with paying for healthcare. The problem is when you are lower to middle middle class. Then healthcare is too expensive.

    Thanks for debating this issue, as opposed to just calling me wrong. Perhaps I will become enlightened. Perhaps you will learn something from my perspective.

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  9. Then, you would admit that the administrative side is a big part of the problem, when you refer to your experiences with American "socialized" medicine because that is what I see as one of the biggest cost producing factors in American medicine in general. When I related my friends story, I tried to be a factual as possible. The cost to him for his treatment, diagnosis and hospital stay was around 2000 USD. Please, try to be realistic when you dispute the costs. An uninsured man in a foreign country walks into a hospital emergency room, is hospitalized for a week, given a full range of diagnostic tests and treatments and then released with nothing more than his address in Chicago where he will be billed...
    When I talk of the costs of French medical care, I take into account that the taxes I pay subsidies this system, but I pay very little taxes in relationship to what you pay as far as property taxes go.
    Frankly, from what I have seen and experienced in America, poor people don't go to the doctor until a real crisis occurs. If you want to realistically discuss this, then stick with facts, not sound bytes that you think will impress me. I've heard all of them.

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  10. Tnth writes, The egghead bean counters are the ones that drive up costs, and they are also the ones who don't provide service.

    Who, exactly, are these 'bean counters' to whom you refer? Are they a part of the health care system of which I have no knowledge?

    Egghead bean counters???

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  11. J.O.B.,

    I think that you expected some push-back – here it is. Part of the problem is that we’ve converted a huge issue into anecdotes and bumper stickers.

    We have to agree on three basic truths.

    First: the United States doesn’t have a “health care system” in the manner of France and Germany. Health care is delivered or offered by the market place except where it is directed or supplanted by government. Likewise we don’t have a “telecommunications system” or an “automobile system.” When health care was unencumbered by government, it was safe, affordable, personal, and widely available. That is what our Founding Fathers intended.

    Second: Insurance providers have grown up to fill perceived gaps or the needs of businesses, government, and consumers of health care. When I was growing up I remember my mother stopping at the receptionist, pulling out her checkbook, and paying for my stitches, shots, tooth repairs, or the like. That was of course before government got into the health care business with the “Great Society” which turned out to be anything but great.

    Third: The health care industry is not “corrupt” however there is corruption most often associated with Medicare and Medicaid primarily because that bureaucracy has no advocate. Medicare and Medicaid fraud is huge in the United States as is Insurance fraud. But it isn’t industry that is corrupt, but rather individuals who exploit a system that doesn’t work. Further, people generally don’t care how much something costs if they aren’t paying for it – that is probably one of the biggest issues right now. While it is popular to demonize companies – they aren’t the bad guys in health delivery.

    It’s important to understand that no one said “this is how we want health care to be delivered” and then gave us today’s reality. Rather two competing forces – the free market and statists (government lovers) worked against each other in a dynamic environment that produced today’s reality. As a result we have the best health care in the world (provided by private companies and hospitals) located in some areas blocks or miles away from very poor health care (provided by government clinics). Ask Michelle Obama as she worked for the former and help design a methodology to direct poor or indigent patients to the later while in Chicago. That is important to understand – you can’t get better health care anywhere in the world – to say different is just nonsense. However, it is possible to get sub-optimum health care in America as well.

    (to be continued)

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  12. (Continued from above)

    Generalizations (like infant mortality) often are inaccurate. Spain for example doesn’t count a birth as a “baby” unless that baby exceeds a certain length. So their infant mortality appears better than it is though we in the United States do count low birth weight babies. A recent report (the same one that said France was #1) placed the United States at #40 for health care – does anyone seriously believe that you can get better health care in #38 Bosnia? The very idea is ludicrous.

    Health care is a complex issue and we didn’t get here by design. You see the free market sneaking in again with the “Doc in the box” concept, shots at WalMart, and the increase in the number of physician assistants to handle minor or routine care. Healthcare isn’t expensive because insurance company CEO’s make too much money – it’s too expensive because we are carrying around 70,000 government employees and spending $80 BILLION a year on the Health and Human Services Department. Of course Obamacare will make all of that worse.

    Lastly – France is a small and insignificant country when compared to the United States. Our top eight cities (metro areas) alone have more people in them than all of France. One single US HMO, United Health Group alone covers more people that the government of France. If you compared the French Health Care System with the 70 Million customers of United Health Group – who do you think would be better off? Who gets the better value?

    We are not perfect, but after November 2012 we will get better.

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  13. Microdot,

    My apologies. I apparently misread where the hospital stay was a week long. You are correct, that bill would be horrific. And the reason for that is abuse of insurance companies. I can't imagine a hotel that costs $8000 a night, but a hospital room does? That is just fraud, plain and simple, and it wouldn't happen in a one payer system, that payer being the patient.

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  14. I agree that generalizations are often inaccurate, but to use that statement and then an anecdotal reference to Spain as way of trying to infer that the infant mortality statistics of France might be somehow incorrect is not a valid argument.
    Yes, France is about the size of Texas in comparison to the United States, but we are talking about a radically different way of delivering health care that works in the context of, while a country that is "insignificant according to you" in relationship to the vastness of America, one of the largest countries in Europe.
    Let's look at the administrative cost of enforcing regulations, the inefficient disorganization as a source of costs.
    Say what you may about Spain, but they are on the verge of passing legislation which will enforce drastic cuts in the costs of prescription drugs to the population.
    I really believe and I see with my own eyes that I get a better value and level of personal care here in France. Again, Common, you make another rather vague and kind of silly statement at the end of your defense of America with a statement that after November 2012, things will get better.
    What in the world are you talking about? If a new Republican administration could have a positive effect on health care in the USA? Sure, open the gates and free the lobbyists and stop all of these stupid limits on the free market insurance companies....
    Rick Peryy is somehow gonna save your ass by praying away the sickness?

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  15. Here's a question...I seem to have all the questions here and am waiting for some kind of answer, rather than rhetorical posing of anecdotes...so here's my question:
    Why is it important to you that Perry -- and the majority of Republican Presidential candidates in the last two election cycles -- claim to be willing to consider creationism and evolution equivalent?" Here is my stab at it. I think it is important that politicians attempt to undertake policies that have an empirical basis indicating their efficacy. I would not want to elect someone who believes that the National Institutes of Health should promote "bleeding" or "hot cupping" as a means for treating illness nor someone who believes that the alleged grant of dominion over the birds of the air and the fish in the sea in the Bible means we should indiscriminately slaughter animals to the point of extinction. Nor do I want to elect someone who has no sense of the scientific method or other evidence-based modes of thinking. And I sure as hell don't want to elect someone who thinks that the abstinence-only approach to sex education and family planning works.

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  16. Off subject slightly, but still on subject as to the kind of reasoning I am seeing here. I have not gotten any replies other apologetic flag waving and really, un established cliches about the victimization of the poor suffering discrimination saddled poor middle class white males at the hands of the supposed favoritism of the poor...
    Okay, you guys, you can whine all you want about how the system has victimized you, but what would you do to fix it?

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  17. Apparently, Microdot, there is great Silence coming from the right-wing.

    It is my experience that many on the right are like those childhood sparklers that burst into light and fire, and, in an instant, are nothing more than a charred piece of wire.

    I have found that, if you ask substantive questions and demand exact answers, Great Silence fills the room.

    Further, the gaggle of right-wingers that congregate on Tenth's blog like to stick together on their safe turf [like the Bloods and Crypts in the Ghetto] where the others can attack and defend one another.

    So, Microdot, when you ask, Okay, you guys, you can whine all you want about how the system has victimized you, but what would you do to fix it? you are Blowing in the Wind.

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  18. Microdot,

    I was composing a response to your first diatribe and to be honest haven't read any of your other comments - I do have a life after all. We're trying (I think) to have a discussion and volume won't trump value - or at least I hope not.

    You are kind of all over the map sheet and I'm not exactly sure what you want to talk about. I was responding to health care - you provided your personal experience (which is anecdotal) and I addressed the American system as a whole. America isn't trying to be like France (Obama is - but the rest of us aren't) - the entire concept of our business, culture, and government are manifestly different and Americans prefer it that way.

    France counts and reports its infant mortality - that is more to the point. I happened to have read about health care in the not too distant past and remembered how the author provided several examples of how statics are gathered, massaged, and create the illusion of truth. That was the purpose of the Spanish infant mortality rate point which I remembered from that book. I have visited France, trained with the French military, and vacationed there but I have not studied your health care system - but then I suspect you haven't either.

    If you want an apples-to-apples comparison I suggest you compare the health care provided by United Health Group. To be honest it would take days and days of research to break out a fair comparison. That indeed was my initial point - anecdotes, personal experiences, and the like have little bearing on such a vast subject. You have no idea how much the French system costs in personal terms, lives lost, misery averted, or advances suppressed - neither do I - so let's not pretend that we do. My point is simple I choose freedom.

    The overwhelming majority of people in the United States are covered by HMO plans - some are better than others. However frequently this is based on the choice of the consumer (freedom).

    For example. I keep a rather large "emergency fund" on hand so when I deal with insurance I can decrease my premiums by raising my deductible. I might take a $1,000 hit if I have a disaster - but I'll make that up over the life of the policy.

    There are millions of people in the United States that can afford insurance but chose not to buy it as they plan to not get sick (no joke). Further, of the several million (no one really knows how many) people that are currently uninsured (estimates range from 6-10 million) that qualify for a variety of government health care programs but choose not to use them or sign up. Before we delve deeper into socialism we should figure out why that happens.

    There are consequence of freedom. Personally - I prefer it to having a government take care of me.

    Government care is an illusion. You pay for it somehow - there is no "free" medical care. If the government of Spain "reduces drug costs" there will be fewer drugs. Economics even work in socialist countries. If it costs two dollars to make, market, and transport a Lipitor pill to Spain and the Spanish government make the cost $1.00 - Spanish people aren't getting any Lipitor.

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  19. Let me clarify my "vague and silly" statement. There is no doubt that Governor Perry would bring relief to our Nation. When we try and act like Europe (Obama's plan) we get the same results. We choose freedom. Let's tick off a few things that we could do under President Perry that would help.

    Tort reform - right now a huge amount of my son-in-law's income from his position as an emergency room physician goes to malpractice insurance. Governor Perry signed "loser pays" in Texas - if that was the law of the land it would drop medical costs substantially - it has everywhere it has been tried.

    The other benefit to tort reform is that now doctors send people to an ever increasing series of tests to insure that they cover their ass in legal terms. Other procedures that are unnecessary would also be eliminated. The biggest example is birth by Cesarean section. When a doctor lost a suit (John Edwards was the trial lawyer) for delaying a cesarean section - births by cesarean section spiked in subsequent years. That procedure is more expensive and extends the recovery of the mother.

    Enable people to shop across State lines. Right now to have a National footprint an insurance company has to have 50 different plans as each State has it's own insurance fiefdom. Though I'm generally a State's Rights guy - we have to fix that.

    Slash regulations - Virginia just passed a law increasing the benefits to autistic children. That's called an "unfunded mandate." Though I love Virginia - that was wrong and our Commonwealth just pulled money out of everyone's pockets to pay for that.

    Another way to fix the current system would be to allow people more control of the money and how it is spent. Provide a benefit to the consumer if they seek the most cost effective care. If you go to the "Doc-in-the-box" instead of the emergency room for example. That reduces cost.

    Wean people off Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP by a system of vouchers that they could use to buy their own insurance. That would be a huge savings just in the reduction of fraud alone.

    Turn the claims process for Medicare and Medicaid over to American Express or Visa. There are companies in the United State that process claims or payments without anywhere near the level of fraud that Medicare or Medicaid experience. Either the point above (gradual weaning off those programs) or getting the private sector to run them would make for huge savings.

    That's enough for now - there aren't a lack of good ideas out there - we just have people stuck in the false promise and hope of The Great Society who won't help us fix the problem.

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  20. Microdot -

    Don't pay any attention to Mud_Sling - he's wrong about everything.

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  21. C.S.---To tell you the truth, I did not expect push back. I expect to get educated on a foreign heathcare policy. I've always been curious to the differences. I came across this gentleman who has experienced both.

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  22. J.O.B.,

    My bust - I thought you were trying to compare and contrast. Your friend certainly seemed to be comparing socialized medicine favorably to its free market cousin. Having read a quantity of material on health care during the Obamacare debacle I'm aware that all socialized medicine has going for it is equal misery among the participants and the illusion of modernity.

    I leave everyone to quench their interest in all things French. I'll move on.

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  23. Well, this has been an unique and interesting experience. Reaffirming my belief that a closed mind can remain closed and will exist in its self contained universe, creating an orbiting system of planetary factoids when ever necessary to eclipse any conflicting ideas.
    I know what I have seen from my own interactions with the under class of America. I've been in both positions, as a poor person...a poor white kid with no access to health care assistance and a person with insurance.
    I have a few close family members involved in Medicine in America. I know the plight of my relatives who have to pay for insurance in America.
    Yes, I am comparing Frances System to the USA in the comments and I cannot be anything bu favorable to France when I make the comparison.
    The final statement of Common Sense about equal misery and illusion again is the sound of a door slamming on any real attempt to look at the reality. I hope you remain happy and healthy in your imploding universe.

    This exchange has given me a lot of food for thought....thank you all very much.

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  24. I love it; when a conservative stands on tried and true principles liberals accuse them of being "close-minded" or "partisan." (In the old days it was "reactionary")

    However somehow when a liberal refuses to listen to reason - that liberal is noble or brilliant.

    Pretty amazing actually.

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