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Comparing Health Status and Health Care Services in France with That in the United States

Essay by   •  March 10, 2013  •  Research Paper  •  2,004 Words (9 Pages)  •  1,754 Views

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Executive Summary

The objectives of any healthcare system are versatile and complicated in today's ever-changing world. This paper provides an overview of the health care systems in France and the United States, while comparing the two and assessing the achievements, the problems and the reforms, besides bringing forth the lessons that the United States needs to learn from France.

The World Health Organization, after assessing the health outcomes of people from 191 countries, ranked France at number 1 and the United States at number 37 among these countries (Shapiro, 2008). However, some researchers were not satisfied and restudied 19 industrialized countries, but the results again declared France as the first and the Unites States at the bottom of all developed countries in terms of delivery of health care services. The French citizens consider their health care system to be the best in the world, while most of the Americans are not satisfied with the affordability and availability of healthcare. What is surprising is that though the United States spends large sums on healthcare, it is still delivering such disappointing results. On the other hand, France demonstrates that remarkable results can be delivered with a mix of public and private financing. "The United States spends about twice as much as France on health care. In 2005, U.S. spending came to $6,400 per person. In France, it was $3,300" (Shapiro, 2008). The French health insurance offers universal coverage with a public-private mix of hospital and ambulatory care, more resources, and wide access to comprehensive health services. With special care for mothers and infants, France has significantly low maternal and infant mortality rates. This paper provides an overview of the health care systems in France and the United States, while comparing the two and assessing the achievements, the problems and the reforms, besides bringing forth the lessons that the United States needs to learn from France.

According to 2012 estimates, the population of the USA is 313,847,465 (United States, 2012). On the other hand, the population of France is 65,630,692 (France, 2012). In France, the average life expectancy at birth is 81.46 years, three years more than that in the USA (France, 2012). France has far more hospital beds - 8.4 per 1,000 people as compared to only 3.6 per 1,000 people in the United States of America (Nation Master, 2012). Even the number of doctors available per capita in France is more than that in America. Prenatal and early childhood care is exceptional in France due to patient-focused health care system existing since 1945.

The organization of health care in France is typically presented as being rooted in the principles of liberalism and pluralism. The principle of liberalism includes selection of the physician by the patient, freedom for physicians to practice wherever they choose, clinical freedom for the doctor, and professional confidentiality. The French tolerance for organizational diversity contributes toward pluralism. The healthcare system is a widespread network providing extra care to the mothers and infants, and involving the efforts of pediatricians, nurses, psychologists, and midwives. Even the social workers are sent to houses when children are not regularly brought for checkups.

Infant mortality rate in France is 3.4 deaths per 1,000 live births in contrast to 6 deaths per 1,000 live births in the USA (France, 2012). At the same time, more abortions take place in the United States. The difference in rates of death from respiratory diseases, diabetes, and heart diseases is also striking, with France's being very low. In France, while 39.8 per 100,000 people die due to a heart disease, in the U.S., the figure is as high as 106 (Nation Master, 2012). In case of cancer, while 286 French deaths occur per 100,000 people, 322 Americans die per 100,000 people (Nation Master, 2012). In fact, France has the lowest death rate from ailments that could probably have been prevented by proper healthcare. Other major causes of deaths are motor vehicle accidents and suicides.

Due to better healthcare services provided by the nation, the French enjoy healthier lives

and also live longer. Their quality of life is superior as compared to people from other nations. Special prenatal and postnatal care is provided to mothers, and good care of the child commences from birth itself. Working mothers are provided with paid job leaves for months. Neighborhood clinics, nurses' visits to home, and subsidized care for mothers and infants have contributed majorly to their well being.

While Americans assume that people abandon their choice of hospitals and doctors on getting universal coverage, in France, the system assures ample choices to patients to select their doctors. It is further ensured that there is no force on doctors; moreover, they have freedom to prescribe whichever care they consider essential. In fact, such is the case in France that the sick are the priority and get more coverage. In case of long-term illnesses like diabetes and cancer, which demand heavy financial expenditures, the government sponsors healthcare and medication to patients (Shapiro, 2008). Critical surgeries, such as coronary bypass, are also available free of cost. France even guarantees drugs to every cancer patient. In the U.S., a patient may have to pay relatively more for the same treatment. It is because of such easy accessibility that the French are extremely content with the health services provided by their country. A safe and secure environment is essential for mental peace and affects the overall health of the individual.

The limited access to health insurance for many Americans poses a major flaw in the American health care system. In France, what exists is a national insurance program, due to which no one has been left uninsured. It is funded by income taxes and payroll, which later decide the doctor's fee. Workers have to pay nearly 21% of their income as taxes (Shapiro, 2008). These taxes amount to such a large sum that they constrain the employer's ability to employ more workers. On the other hand, Americans do not spend much in paying taxes. However, they ultimately have to pay more when the cost of insurance, medicines,

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