Healthcare in America remains a contested debate across the aisle; a combination of private and public health insurance companies work towards ensuring access to healthcare to be unaffordable and highly strenuous yet there still is the perverse notion that the state ought not to carry the financial burden of providing coverage. While a portion of the population is able to get coverage off of their employers, this is not at all times completely inclusive to all health care facilities, and frequently there are limitations to what the health care coverage can actually cover for both costs and operations. Generally, this limitation greatly deters those who do not have full access as they end up having to narrow down what services they can get or what they are even able to afford. In contrast, most other developed countries have instituted universal health care programs in which taxes carry the burden of providing healthcare for the whole state. This includes prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare, all of which are susceptible to not being fully covered by the American healthcare system.
Living in New York City as a first generation child of middle class immigrants, we were fortunate enough to be able to have medicare which covered the majority of costs for our healthcare needs. The problem that still persisted was an overworked public hospital system that was known, to us at least, as being inefficient and still costly if you ever needed specialized care. This pattern of inefficiency resulted as a product of public hospitals existing in a capitalistic system where private hospitals and private health insurances harbor the money, resources and best access to care. The general notion is that us being within the poorer middle class we would not be able to depend on our local hospital for our healthcare needs as it would always take too long and in the long run open us up to having to pay extremely high prices for the specialized healthcare we sought after.
Consequently, people in America are constantly having to struggle when it comes to receiving proper and affordable healthcare. Having health issues, whether preventable or not, is a huge strain on financial resources and the more dependable the health issue is on medical facilities and providers, the more costs and healthcare loops one has to pay for. Healthcare in itself is understood as a hassle, and a costly one. Contrastingly, France’s healthcare system is universal, meaning all people have access to the healthcare they need. The government largely controls the costs of healthcare and covers the majority of costs burdened onto patients. There exists lower prices for operations, medicines and treatments and the money that is paid by the patient is frequently paid back by government refunds.
The majority of people in France understand their healthcare system as simple, easy to navigate and inherently affordable. This translates to people having close healthy relationships with going out to get healthcare in which they trust the system to be affordable and dependable. The process of reaching out to doctors, whether specialized or general, is simple and cuts through the American system of having to make sure your health insurance covers whatever specific doctor or medical office you are trying to contact. The process to see a doctor, whether specialized or not, is a dependable one that does not have the American deterrent of extraordinarily high costs.
Recently, due to an asthma attack, I had to endure the process many French people go through in order to receive healthcare. Finding healthcare was not difficult, I knew I had at least 3 options in getting treatment within the next 24 hours, and being an American without French citizenship I was surprised at how easy it was to even get a doctor’s appointment. I ultimately ended up choosing to go to the emergency room in which the process itself was simple. The expectation for French nationals is that they give their social security number or proof of health insurance, and the whole expense including price for treatment, medicine and stay at the emergency room would be entirely covered for. Due to me not being a french citizen and not having my health insurance card on me, I have the responsibility of paying a whopping 30 euros (of which I still have not been billed for). This 30 euros included the treatment I received at the hospital, and even the prescription medicine and inhalers they had provided for me for my aftercare. The only extreme fault I have seen in this healthcare system is the length it had taken for care to finally be allotted to me. I was in the waiting room for three and a half hours in which I truly could not breathe properly and was extremely disappointed in the wait time. Upon asking some people here about what is normally a wait time at the hospitals, I have been told extremely long wait times are common and honestly to be expected. Ultimately, the price that is paid in this universal healthcare system is not the access to efficient high quality healthcare, as American capitalist defenders of our current healthcare system will say, but the length of time it can potentially take to receive it; an exchange I personally am ready to opt for if it means a more dependable healthcare system that I can trust to properly care for me at a free cost and ensure my own continued quality of life. The environment that has been set up by our American healthcare system is one completely plagued by capitalism, in which we have normalized our own access to capital to how worthy our lives are of receiving healthcare; this has seeped down to the ways we view our doctors, sick people, patients and what wealth and health means in manners we are not even aware of due to the capitalistic foggy lens we have all been forced upon.