What is the difference between the
United States and France healthcare system?
French Health Care System
The French healthcare system has been in place and has continued to evolve for more than one
hundred years, and was classified the “best health system in the world” by the World Health
Organization (WHO) in June 2000. It permits all French citizens access to treatment and to the
latest discoveries in medical research. The success of the French health system is evidenced in
the general health of the French population. Their life expectancy increases more than three
months each year, and French women have the second highest life expectancy rate in the world.
The Healthcare System and its Users:
The French government provides a number of diverse and comprehensive healthcare rights.
For more than 96 percent of the population, medical care is either entirely free or is
reimbursed 100 percent. The French also have the right to choose among healthcare
providers, regardless of their income level. For example, they can consult a variety of
doctors and specialists or choose a public, private, university or general hospital. Moreover,
the waiting lists for surgeries found in other government supported healthcare systems do
not exist in France.
In France, health insurance is a branch of the Social Security system. It is funded by
workers’ salaries (60 percent of the fund), by indirect taxes on alcohol and tobacco and by
direct contribution paid by all revenue proportional to income, including retirement
pensions and capital revenues. On the surface, it appears that health insurance reimburses
medical care providers less in France than in other European countries. However, more
than 80 percent of French people have supplemental insurance, often provided by their
employers. The poorest have free universal healthcare, which is financed by taxes.
Additionally, the treatment costs for those who suffer from long-term illnesses are
In July 2001, the government passed a law allowing the healthcare system to provide
additional assistance to families who need help with daily tasks. On March 4, 2002, the
government passed another law, establishing compensation for all medical-related accidents
whether fault is found or not. These new rights were added to other long established rights,
such as compensation payments in the case of pregnancy or disease prevention, medical
care for workers and students, family planning, and systematic screening of certain
Organization of the Healthcare System: