The healthcare programme in France is bolstered by an insurance policy established in 1945 and provides cover for 80% of the population. It was originally created to cover those in employment to provide “sécurité sociale” or social security but has since been expanded to cover all citizens under the principle of “couverture maladie universelle” or universal health coverage.
An overview of the healthcare infrastructure in France
The health care system in France is totally subsidized by the government by virtue of a fund and is therefore free. The fund is injected with personal income taxes from income earned by the working population and allows for the lack of income, the effects of wage changes and strives to offer all citizens the opportunity of having access to medical treatment when the need arises.
Role of the State
The state ensures that people have access to the health insurance scheme, the types of health care eligible for funding and oversees the role of entities involved. Public safety is the state’s priority and so is planning for the number of hospitals and sizes as well as the provision of specialized wards.
There are two types of hospitals – the public sector hospitals and the private hospitals. The first category hospitals provide 65% of available beds. Because they are public, these hospitals are charged with the supply of continuous care for patients as well as being responsible for ongoing tutoring and training of both patients and staff. The second category or private hospitals are motivated by profit and they focus attention mainly on income earning activities such as surgery. They levy a charge for their services in order to obtain and augment their finances.
Doctors and physicians are employed in the public and private sector hospitals and 97% abide by the provisions of the “Tarif de convention” or tariff references which set the amount of costs involved for the kind of medical treatment rendered. Health professionals as well as clinics and hospitals that choose not to conform to the tariffs, are required to display their prices, so people can decide whether or not to avail themselves to treatment.
In France, there are 3.37 doctors per 1,000 people.
Initially, the patient approaches the medicin traitant or general practitioner who has been registered as the physician responsible to coordinate the patient’s treatment. Should for any reason, the physician or substitute is another doctor may be consulted by the patient after consulting the cause d’assurance or staff at the register. The patient is at liberty to change his/her physician and in the process, retains the entitlement for reimbursement for the type of treatment given.
Funding the healthcare scheme
Funds for the healthcare system in France is obtained from the income of the working population with the following percentages:
- An employee’s contribution towards his/her healthcare compensation is 21% made up of 12.5% contributed by the employer and 0.75% by the employee. The balance is obtained from a social security tax collected from the employee.
- The contribution by the employer and employee along with the social security tax make up 60% of the health care fund remitted to government.
- The balance of the fund is obtained from indirect taxes on alcohol and tobacco.