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France and USA Healthcare Systems

Compare and contrast the benefits and liabilities of France's healthcare system. What are the differences and similarities compared to the USA's approach and their strengths and weaknesses in regard to the delivery of healthcare. Which country has the most effective approach to healthcare?

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The World Health Organization declared the French health care system the best health care system in the world in 2002 (Embassy of France [EF], n.d.; Rodwin, 2003). Unlike the United States (US) where access to care is limited to those covered by insurance, all French citizens and legal residents (that meet certain conditions) have access to care. The French health care system backbone was established in 1945 in such a way that allows being modified according to the needs of the people (Brunner, 2009). For example, in 2001 a law was passed to add daily home health aides to those families in need and in 2004, another one that added compensation for all medical errors (Embassy of France [EF], n.d.). These laws are considered rights built upon the right to universal health care coverage. The knowledge of medical care as a right of the individual is not new. The general assembly of the United Nations proclaimed in 1948 as part of the human rights the right to medical care (United Nations, 2011). The US has yet to acknowledge that access to care is a right of the individual not a benefit gained through work or individual payment.

The flexibility of the French health insurance has allowed the program to persist through the years providing the best care possibly according to the needs of the people. The program is based on promoting collaboration between the public and private sector resources that ensures health care access financed through a system of multiple payers funding under the supervision of the government. Although the US has also a multiple payer and provider system, it does not promote universal health care access.

In general, compared to the United States, the French health care system have lower infant mortality rate(4.3 vs. 7.2 deaths/1000 live births in the US), women and men have longer life expectancies (French women 82.2 vs. 79.4 in USA and French men 74.6 vs. 73.9 in US), and expends only9.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) vs. 13.0% of GDP in the US (Rodwin, 2003). Considering that the French provide universal coverage with only 9.5% of GDP and the US expends 13% of GDP on 24% of the population, the US would benefit of a better control of cost provided by outlined goals and distribution of funding responsibilities like the French system to lower the cost of health and government expending (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2005).

The French health insurance is part of the Social Security system and each year the government presents the next year budget for national health insurance cost outlining the goals intended to achieve just like the US with Medicare (EF, n.d.; Rodwin, 2003). The health care coverage is not funded solely by the French government. Sixty percent funded by employer payroll taxes and workers income taxes, five percent through government subsidies, and the remainder through indirect taxes on alcohol, tobacco and car, taxes on the pharmaceutical industry and patient's share (EF, n.d.; Rodwin, 2003). From a personal point of view, the French health insurance covers 75.5% of the service provided, 12.4% is paid by supplemental insurances privately bought and 11.1 % is considered out of pocket responsibility of the individual (EF, n.d.).

In case of an individual with chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer or heart conditions, the government assumes 100% of the coverage (Brunner, 2009; EF, n.d.). The closest to coverage for chronic health that exits in the US is Medicare a ...

Solution Summary

The solution involves a detailed discussion of the healthcare systems in France and the USA. It describes its possible similarities, differences, efficiency, and places were there could be improvements.