More Words on health care

Another quote from T. R. Reid’s The Healing of America:  A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care:

“…it seems certain that the French will continue to emphasize equal access to medical care–the basic rule that anybody, regardless of race, income, or occupation, can go to any doctor and get the same treatment as anybody else.  Whenever the French talk about health care, they invoke the concept of solidarité, the notion that all French citizens must stick solidly together to help one another in time of need.  ‘The solidarity principle, explains Professor Rodwin, “requires mutual aid and cooperation among the sick and the well, the inactive and the active, the poor and the wealthy, and insists on financing health insurance on the basis of ability to pay, not actuarial risk.’

A French physician, Dr. Valerie Newman, put the same idea a little more bluntly when I asked her why the French system is so focused on free access to any doctor or hospital. ‘It would be stupid to say that everybody is equal,’ she began.  ‘Some are rich and some are poor.  Some are beautiful, some aren’t.  Some are brilliant, some aren’t.  But when we get sick–then, everybody is equal.  Everybody must have equal right to the best medical treatment we can provide.’  Now Dr. Newman was excited as she rose to her rhetorical climax. ‘That is the  basic rule of French health care,’ she said.  ‘Surely, that’s the basic rule of health care in every country.’

Well, not quite.  Equal access for all is the basic rule of health care in almost every developed country–but not the United States.”  (pp. 64-65)


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