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France’s and America’s Health Care Systems Comparison Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019


The America spends around 15% of its GDP on the costs of health care, and this percentage exceeds the OECD’s spending being 8.8% almost twice and the French costs, which constitute 11.2% of its GDP, in 40%. France health care spending is 11% of the national output, matched up to 15% used in America in health issues, such as infant mortality (Skinner & Garber, 2008).

Health care system in the United States has received a criticism due to the absence of universal medical coverage in contrast to the universal health coverage in France. Since French insurance coverage is basically obligatory, medical expenses are more largely allocated to the whole population.

Even though laws in America permit particular kinds of health care offered to the uninsured patients, they increase health expenses for the insured; and these greater health care expenses are borne by the people looking for health care instead of society in general.

Exclusive of the situation of greatly communicable diseases, the treatment, which offers a huge social advantage, is debatable in regard to an extra earning or income. This paper discusses and compares France and the U.S. health care systems.

Health Care System in the United States

Health care system in the United States has brought about more polarizing discussion. Some critics state that the U.S. provides the best health care structure in the world due to directly accessible health care technology and high-tech facilities that have been the point of reference in medical care.

Others criticize the system of health care in America as being ineffective and uneven due to the point that it spends more money on medical care than any other country, and there are still a lot of uncovered people, managerial waste, and unreliable quality.

Health care providers are mainly owned and controlled by the private operators, and health coverage offered by the government in the public health care system ensures around 62% of the total, and provision is provided by programs, such as Veterans Health Administration, TRICARE, and Medicare (Himmelstein & Woolhandler, 2004). Most people under the age of 65 are covered by their employers; some purchase coverage on their own, while others are uncovered.

In the United States, 49.8 million people, 16.2 percent of the population, were uncovered in 2010, which showed an increase from 16 percent in 2009. In line with WHO, the U.S. allocates more on health care per capita, being $7,145; moreover, it raised the figure on health care as ratio of its GDP became 15.1 percent that was greater than of any other country surveyed in 2009. America was ranked the fourth highest level of public medical care expenditure per capita of $3, 430, following other nations with higher level of health care spending per capital, which were Monaco, Norway, and Luxembourg. In 2009, research in five states reported that health care debt made up to 46.2 percent of entire individual bankruptcies. In 2010, 62.2 percent of filers for bankruptcies declared an increased health care spending. Since then, medical expenses and the number of uncovered and underinsured became greater than before.

Government Implication

In 2010, President Obama passed a law, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which supported phased implementation over four years of an inclusive arrangement of authorized health coverage with reforms intended to remove different undesirable activities of the insurance providers. These activities address the areas, such as yearly and life coverage gaps, premium loadings, and necessary screening.

It also establishes a least ratio of direct health care expenditure to premium income, and price competition strengthened by the formation of three standard insurance coverage stages, to allow open assessment by end users, and online health coverage services that enable consumers to assess prices and other service plans. Health care system offers subsidy to allow the low income earners to purchase insurance and conserve private health facilities and private insurance.

The law enacted by President Obama includes provision related to the health care that is to be executed over seven years, and extending Medicaid eligibility for the public translating to 135 percent of the FDL (Federal Poverty Level), offering incentives to firms to allow medical benefits, forbidding refusal of coverage and denial of claims derived from the present situations.

This law also creates health care insurance exchanges and supports subsidization of coverage premiums for the public, representing 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level in order for their highest spending for yearly premiums to descend from 2% to 10% of earnings (Skinner & Garber, 2008). It also disallows the insurers from instituting annual insurance or coverage caps and focuses more on the establishment of medical research.

Commencing in 2014, the law will disallow insurers to refuse insurance to sick candidates, or demand certain conditions, for instance, advanced payments or premiums. The 2010 Acts entail coverage providers to cover more expenses, requiring that not less than 80% of premiums should be used in health care or ‘quality upgrading’ and complete medical coverage for immunizations and screenings through disallowing annual and lifetime caps that provide uneven distribution.

Pros and Cons

Medical researches in the United States, which are carried out in some institutions, such as Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, and Harvard Medical School, are among the best in the world, and well-known due to the developments they do in medicine, mainly, because of the latest free-market structure.

For the people with employment and great benefits, or those who can pay for it, various American insurance programs are ranked among the best programs in the globe. Another benefit of the latest American medical care program is that taxpayers are not responsible for the cost related to giving health care insurance to all the people (Skinner & Garber, 2008).

Medical care expenses in the United States are more than in any country all over the globe, and its system where every person should be covered just serves to raise these expenses at the cost of the taxpayers.

Most people assert that tax contributions would carry funds away from national security and education to finance newly established medical care system. The noticeable drawback of the health care system in the United States is that though the taxpayers have used more of their income in the American health care, most researches report that Americans have not become healthier than people in other countries that spend less on health care than the US.

There is huge amount of money used in American health care, and the government pays out more of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on medical system than any other nation. In 2008, the United States allocated almost 15% of its total GDP on health care (Skinner & Garber, 2008).

Another noticeable drawback of the health care system is that most people are either underinsured or uninsured, and the United States Census Bureau reported that in 2003, 65% of people were insured by health insurance controlled by the government while 15% of the population were uninsured.

Health Care System in France

The French government offers some series of varied and all-inclusive health care programs. For over 95% of the people, health care is either completely free or fully compensated (Sánchez-Serrano, 2011, p. 30). The people also have the privilege to select among health care facilities, irrespective of their earning levels. Additionally, the waiting lists for surgeries, just like in the United States, are not found in France health care system.

Medical care coverage in France is a section of the Social Security structure which is financed by income of the employees (60% of the accounts), imposed taxes from tobacco and alcohol, and payment provided by the revenue related to earning that composes capital revenues and retirement pensions.

Apparently, it seems that medical insurances repay health care facilities more in the United States than in France. However, above 80% of French citizens have supplemental medical coverage, usually offered by their employers.

Government Implications

In the mid 2001, a law was enacted by the government enabling the health care system to offer more support to people in need in their every day tasks. In March 2002, the government also enacted a policy creating reimbursement for every accident related to health issue, regardless whether it is their own fault or not.

These new policies were added to the previous confirmed policies, such as reimbursement rights in instances of illness prevention or pregnancy, health costs for employees and students, organized screening of particular disorder, and family planning.

The ‘2012 Hospital Plan’ allocated with £10 million is to allow the implementation of fresh investments with some major concerns, such as the reinforcing complementarities among health care providers situated in certain area, the improvement of security system, and the automation of health care system (Sánchez-Serrano, 2011, p. 30). In 2002, a law passed by the government addressed the rights of the patients on pain relief, in line with reimbursement for severe medical accidents, patient consent, availability of communication to the patient, and dignity of the patient.

Pros and Cons

People benefit from the ability to choose personal medical providers or doctors, and patients with long-term disorders or illnesses are allocated with more funds or 100 percent medical insurance coverage. The less income earners are provided with universal healthcare that is funded by taxes.

Moreover, the medical expenses for the people suffering from the long-term illness are fully compensated, and they can confer with different practitioners or select university, private, public, general, or private health care providers.

Health care systems have a loose edition of universal health care, denoting that the government made a controlled system that enabled medical care facilities and insurance providers to insure everybody (Sánchez-Serrano, 2011, p. 30). Health care system in France also allows more funds to be used in medical costs due to the structure where the patients need to consult the doctor first, which adds more expenses.

Comparison of Health Care Systems

France health care spending of 11 percent of the national output is lower as compared to 15% used in America in health issues, such as infant mortality. Health care systems of both France and the U.S. allow patients to have different selections when looking for medical care or providers (Budrys, 2011, p. 135).

In France, patients commonly get interventions directly from a professional or consultant, while in the United States, the expansion of HMO signifies that most patients should receive the consent of a ‘primary care physician’ before looking for specific interventions. The U.S. system can be annoying to patients, but also preserve the spending directed to health care costs when the primary care physician considers it unimportant.

Like France, America provides both the public and the private insurers, and the issue that especially concerns the system of the United States is the control of the private component over the public one. In France, being jobless signifies reduced tax funds going into Assurance Maladie’s treasury, but in the U.S., it means that a person may lose his or her coverage (Budrys, 2011, p. 135).

In France, regulation also limits the medical coverage providers from appropriately pooling policies and reforms by risk group, which increases medical coverage premiums in general. Medical systems normally take advantage of reduced regulation and an inclination towards a medical arrangement where insurance assumes to a function of offering for dependent and upsetting health care emergencies among groups for which the possibility for these incidences is roughly the same.

In the U.S. health care system, reforming the way in which practitioners and other providers are salaried is an essential aspect in providing system transition, especially, in the common payment system, and generates incentives to offer extra services, instead of improved and high-value approaches to care for conditions.


Health care systems in France and America undergo more expenses caused by the application of medical coverage for regular medical care where the key receiver does not receive the full cost of the health care.

It appears that the U.S. spends more funds in health care system than any other country in the world, including France. Different measures and reforms are needed in both systems to provide satisfying services and regulate amount of the funds allocated to these systems.


Budrys, G. (2011). Our Unsystematic Health Care System. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield.

Himmelstein, D., & Woolhandler, S. (2004). Administrative waste in the U.S. International Journal of Health Services, 34(1): 79–86.

Sánchez-Serrano, I. (2011). The World’s Health Care Crisis. Paris: Elsevier.

Skinner, J., & Garber, A. (2008). Is American Health Care Uniquely Inefficient? Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22(4): 34-56.

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