US vs. France Healthcare Systems


The urge to develop and maintain healthy nations has compelled various countries to develop robust medical structures. France and the United States are among the nations that have developed complex healthcare delivery systems. The French system adopts universal health coverage. It has a public-private mix of hospital and ambulatory care. Furthermore, it has greater volume of service provision than in the United States. This essay compares and contrasts the French healthcare system with that of the United States of America.

Healthcare Statistics and Costs

In the year 2011, the French government spent approximately 12% of its GDP on healthcare. This amount represented about 4,000 dollars per capita. In that year, the life expectancy of male citizens was about 78.5, while that for females was approximately 85.0. According to Thomson, Osborn, Squires, and Jun (2013), the total life expectancy of citizens in the country rose to about 82.0. The top two causes of death in France are lung cancer and coronary heart diseases with rates of 29.55 and 29.25 respectively. The country has a mortality rate of 8.6, while the infant mortality rate stands at 4 deaths per 1000 live births (Thomson et al., 2013).

In the same year, the US government’s per capita national health expenditures stood at about 8,600 million dollars. This amount represented approximately 18-percent of the total GDP. The life expectancy of Americans in the US was 78.7 years (Thomson et al., 2013). The death rate stood at 807.4 deaths per 100,000 individuals, while the infant mortality rate was 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. The fatal diseases in the US include cancer and heart disorders (Thomson et al., 2013).

Healthcare Financing

The financial accountability of healthcare in France is usually determined on the statutory health insurance system, which is a branch of the wider social security system. Since 1 January 2000, the medical insurance covers the whole population. However, it only funds three-quarters of health spending per patient. Working individuals contribute about 20-percent of their gross salary to the social security system. According to Rodwin (2003), citizens with a taxable income of less than 6,600 dollars per annum are exempted from paying the contributions. In the year 2000, the French health expenditures were 9.5% of the national GDP (Rodwin, 2003).

In the United States, the healthcare system is financed in a variety of ways. At the outset, people can pay for health services directly. Others have health insurance benefits from their employers. Medicare covers elderly citizens, while low-income mothers, children, and disabled persons receive healthcare through Medicaid. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) offers medical attention to children who are not likely to receive such services. Government programs directly cover approximately 27.8% of the population. Public spending on healthcare ranges from 45% to 56.1%. Rodwin (2003) reveals that the US government spending on healthcare was 13.0% of its GDP in 2000.

Healthcare Administration

In France, the ministry of health administers the state’s medical system. It centrally coordinates hospitals, clinics, doctors, pharmacies, and ambulance services other healthcare providers. The National Health Service (NHI) ensures the transfer of funds system from patients to healthcare providers through the universal healthcare. It covers the legitimate residents (Rodwin, 2003). The NHI funds are legally distributed amongst private firms that are responsible for the provision of public health services. They are quasi-public organizations that are overseen by the French ministry of social security.

On the other hand, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the principal agency that protects the wellbeing of Americans by providing the essential medical services. The government provides healthcare insurance through Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid is a safety net program for people with low income, mostly women, children, and the disabled. Similarly, Medicare provides health insurance for those citizens who are aged 65 years and above (Rodwin, 2003).

Healthcare Personnel and Facilities

The healthcare system in France comprises a fully integrated coordination of public and private hospitals, doctors, and other medical service providers. It is a universal service that provides healthcare for every citizen irrespective of wealth, age, and/or social status. Hospitals are state-owned, while clinics are privately owned. Clinics are state ratified, and work for the National Health Service. Many health specialists work in both state-run hospitals and private clinics (Robertson, Gregory, & Jabbal, 2014).

In the US, ownership of the healthcare system is mainly in private hands. However, the federal, state, county, and city governments also own certain medical facilities. Most physicians in the country are trained by the US medical education system. International medical graduates progress through the necessary steps to acquire medical licenses to conduct clinical practice in the country (Robertson et al., 2014).

Access to Healthcare and Inequality Issues

In France, the universal health policy caters for the population’s needs with no exceptions. Both the employed and unemployed citizens have access to medical services. Despite the achievement of universal coverage under the NHI, there are still striking disparities in the geographic distribution of health resources. Through the complimentary CMU, people who have more than three-month’s residence in France enjoy 100% access to healthcare facilities without upfront payment for the health services.

On the other hand, there exist disparities in the United States as far as access to healthcare services is concerned. There is no constitutional right to healthcare in the US. This situation leaves out some minority groups who are usually defined by racial and ethnic backgrounds. This kind of inequality poses a great challenge to the provision of healthcare amongst the Americans in the country (Robertson et al., 2014).


The essay reveals that the France Healthcare system is better placed than that of United States. The universal healthcare coverage, which includes the legitimate residents is widely acceptable by the French population. However, the US healthcare system is mean and discriminatory.

Reference List

Robertson, R., Gregory, S., & Jabbal, J. (2014). Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England: The Social Care and Health Systems of Nine Countries. Web.

Rodwin, V. (2003).The Healthcare System Under French National Health Insurance: Lessons for Health Reform in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 93(1), 31-6.

Thomson, S., Osborn, R., Squires, D., & Jun, M. (2013). The Common Wealth Fund: International Profiles of Healthcare Systems, 2013. Web.

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