France Struggling To Provide Universal Care While Controlling High Costs

Wall Street Journal: "France claims it long ago achieved much of what today's U.S. health-care overhaul is seeking: It covers everyone, and provides what supporters say is high-quality care. But soaring costs are pushing the system into crisis. The result: As Congress fights over whether America should be more like France, the French government is trying to borrow U.S. tactics. In recent months, France imposed American-style 'co-pays' on patients to try to throttle back prescription-drug costs and forced state hospitals to crack down on expenses."

"French taxpayers fund a state health insurer, Assurance Maladie, proportionally to their income, and patients get treatment even if they can't pay for it. France spends 11% of national output on health services, compared with 17% in the U.S., and routinely outranks the U.S. in infant mortality and some other health measures. ... The problem is that Assurance Maladie has been in the red since 1989. ... Despite the structural differences between the U.S. and French systems, both face similar root problems: rising drug costs, aging populations and growing unemployment...." (Gauthier-Villars, 8/7).

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