French Doctors Lose Strike Against “Free” Health Care

After a long and arduous fight, French politicians have approved a law abolishing patients’ upfront payments to physicians, which was a promise of President François Hollande’s Socialist Party.

Currently, patients usually pay about £23 ($25) when they see a general practitioner. However, some of this fee is reimbursed by the national health scheme or private supplemental insurance. I suppose the closest comparison to the United States would be Medicare and Medicare supplemental (Medigap) insurance.

The Socialist Party promised eliminating this co-pay would increase access to care. Remarkably, it is doctors who resisted:

…… hundreds of doctors took to the streets and went on strike over recent months to protest against it. They fear they will have to handle more paperwork to get paid by the public and private health insurance funds, with some doctors’ unions describing the reform as a “Sovietization” of medicine.

Perhaps these French doctors have a better understanding of health economics than their American colleagues. The American Medical Association, for example, supported the Affordable Care Act, which gave us a greatly expanded Medicaid program. Medicaid, a joint state-federal welfare program, offers coverage to low-income Americans. Those patients pay nothing directly. On the other hand, they have poor access to care because Medicaid fees are low.

Co-payments and deductibles have increased in the United States, which some advocates complain make Americans “underinsured.” On the contrary, American doctors should be relieved they don’t have to depend on third-party bureaucracies for their entire incomes, like their French peers will soon have to do.

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For the pivotal alternative to Obamacare, please see Independent Institute’s book, A Better Choice: Healthcare Solutions for America, by John C. Goodman.

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