Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health Care Stories: Paris, France

Pia is a Dane living in Paris. Here she provides a quick comparison between the French and Danish health care systems.

I don't have much personal experience with either the French (where I currently live) or the Danish (where I grew up) health care systems. I'm one of the fortunate people who barely ever get sick.

Having a health care system (the Danish) that's free for all, no matter insurances and background, brings great security. There's no worry if you have an accident and can't pay the bill, there's no worry if your old grandmother will be taken care of when she falls and breaks her arm, there's no worry about going to the doctor for a routine check-up. Those things just happen, and they're free for all.

Certainly, there are some waiting lists for non-vital things, such as replacing a bad hip. Vital things, like surgery for cancer (had a friend who just had that) happens practically at once because it's potentially life-threatening.

There are systems in place to ensure that the waiting lists aren't too big, and now you can even choose private hospitals and the public will still pay. That said, there are not many private hospitals in Denmark. The thought is still rather alien to most Danes.

Moving to France, where you only have partial coverage, was a bit of a shock for me. To go to your own doctor for a check-up, you have to pay money! I know now that I'm much less prone to go for a check-up, and this in spite of most expenses getting reimbursed after filing loads of paperwork (in Denmark you just show your health insurance card, which everybody gets when they turn 16, and the computers figure the rest out).

In France it's the employers who pay for the health coverage, which leaves independent business owners to fend for themselves. The same is true for most unemployed. There's a basic coverage from what I understand, but if you get into hospital, you risk ending up with a big bill. This for me is a big change, and I must admit I don't like it at all. I prefer that everybody pay equally over the tax-bill and everybody has the same right to health care.

That said, in Denmark you can get some private insurances. These mostly cover expenses like glasses, dentist bills, and other non-vital things that's seen as a bit more of a luxury in a way.

I clearly prefer the Danish health care system over the French because of the security it provides for all. In my mind, everybody should be entitled to free health care as long as it's not luxury stuff, like breast implants, etc.

Paris, France

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1 comment:

Utah Savage said...

Oh god how I envy you. Paris? Now I'm going to go back to bed and have a good cry. I live in Utah and Orin Hatch is my Senator. I should just shoot myself and get it over with.