Jacology: Healthcare U.S. v France

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(KPLR) - One of my best friends is a rocket scientist, really.  For the past thirty years, he's been living and working in France as a scientist on the European Space Agency's Arienne Rocket Program. He's a born and bred American; so I thought it would be interesting to talk to him about health care in France versus health care here. Especially since he’s been sick, very, very sick.

He came down with a rare intestinal problem that led to major problems with his internal organs. Which meant a few months ago, unexpectedly; he ended up in the hospital for a very extended period of time.  We know how this could turn out in the United States. You pay a big deductible. You pay hefty co-pays. Your insurance company denies your initial claim. They want to know how fast they can get you away from medical care and back home.

First, some background. Everyone with a job in France has around five percent of their earnings taken from their paychecks for health insurance. If you pay a little extra, you can get private supplementary insurance. If you have both the public and private plans; your co-pays and deductibles are basically zero. With just the public plan, you pay around ten to 15 percent of costs out of pocket. A consultation by a heart specialist, for example, will cost an average patient around twenty bucks.

So I asked my buddy; how much being desperately ill was costing him. Out of pocket, he said, the hospital stay cost him around twenty dollars a day. The rest was covered. The care, he told me, was excellent. He figures the entire thing of several months care will end up costing him about five grand. Total. Period. For everything.

And how much would that cost in the states? He laughed and told me:  Je ne peu pa le compter haut.

Which translates as, I can't count that high.

I'm Charles Jaco and that's Jacology.