British and French Health Care

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Through out the world today health care is a major issue in just about every country. Britain and France are no exception to this rule. Since a very long time ago there have been long standing battles between the people and governments as to how far the governments must go to provide adequate health care for its people. For the upper and middle classes health care usually comes with no problem but for the lower classes they are forced to depend on government assistance.

In France health policy making takes place largely at the national level. These actions revolve completely around two agencies called the social security and the finance. I found that international health care can be very different but at the same time very similar to the United States and in the following paragraphs you will see why.

French citizens have had comprehensive health coverage for many years, and France can be looked upon as an example of an active system. The French healthcare system is based on free enterprise and the freedom for patients to choose their own doctors. Securité sociale, the compulsory health insurance plan in France, finances or reimburses the health care of almost all French citizens. Taxes are deducted from workers' paychecks and, after medical visits or pharmaceutical purchases, the government reimburses recipients anywhere from 60 to 100 percent of their medical expenses. Complementary coverage is also available for an extra charge. Most doctors (about 99 percent) sign an agreement with securité sociale setting the rates of their services, but some doctors may charge higher fees. #

Health care is accessible and affordable for French citizens, but is more costly for the government. As in the United States, the social security system faces a constantly increasing deficit, resulting in a quest for new ways to fund medical care. Currently, French health care policy is looking for a reform mechanism that will create a more affordable system without losing the ideals of free enterprise, freedom of patient choice and a quality system accessible to all French citizens.

Pharmacies in France are specialized facilities which work closely with clients, ensuring safe products and providing professional advice. Pharmaceutical activities in France are strictly regulated by the country's code of public health. Any new drug must undergo many tests to determine its quality and effectiveness before the French agency for medicine will consider authorizing it as marketable. Once on the market, the costs of prescription drugs are reimbursed and regulated by the government, resulting in fairly low fixed prices for consumers. One must be a certified pharmacist in order to own a pharmacy, but restrictions prevent one person from owning more than one establishment. Pharmacies are restricted to selling drugs, cosmetics and other health-related products, and they are the sole establishments which sell medicine, whether it be over the counter or prescription. As a result, consumers can always receive professional advice when purchasing medicine, helping ensure safe and appropriate treatment for any ailment.

Prime Minister Lionel Jospin introduced to the French public in February his new universal healthcare initiative (CMU) designed at covering the some 150,000 French citizens who find themselves without assured medical protection, as well as those 550,000 citizens who have personal healthcare plans but must deal with lower quality services. CMU seeks to provide immediate medical protection and quick access to services for all citizens. #

A recent report indicates that about 25 percent of the French refuse medical aide because they have only partial coverage. However, this proportion is 51 percent among people with lower incomes. The government therefore decided to create a special complementary insurance plan for this category of the population. Six million French citizens will benefit from the measure. The new initiative provides free...
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