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August 27, 2003

Don't Even Stink About It • N'y Puez Même Pas

Fired from France by the dissident frogman

Looks like Small Town's hospital is not exactly an exception.

Over there at Fainting in Coyles, Terrance tells the story of his father, unlucky enough to be ill and in France.

3 bathroom for 51 patients, but all of them used as storage rooms anyway? The best - and particularly expensive - health care system in the world is starting to look like the one of a third rate Soviet republic.

Lamentable.
Il semble bien que l'hôpital de Petite Ville ne soit pas exactement une exception.

Là-bas sur Fainting in Coyles, Terrance nous raconte l'histoire de son père, suffisamment malchanceux pour être malade et en France.

3 salles de bain pour 51 patients, mais toutes utilisées comme entrepôt de toutes manières ? Le meilleur - et surtout coûteux - système de santé du monde commence à ressembler à celui d'une république soviétique de seconde zone.

Lamentable.

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Comments

hope u like this! LOL

http://www.corriere.it/Media/Foto/2003/08_Agosto/27/vignetta.jpg

Posted by: Valerio | August 27, 2003 09:28 PM

As someone with an intimate knowledge of the US healthcare system, Terrance is luckier than the 40 million Americans whom can't afford it. Please check your facts too, no nation on this planet spends more on healthcare as a propotion of GDP than the U.S, we spend so much and get precious little in return:

http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0218/p16s01-coop.html

excerpts:

Healthcare spending in 2001 accounted for 14.1 percent of the US gross domestic product (GDP), the nation's total output of goods and services. By 2012, that share will rise to 17.7 percent, projects the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency in Baltimore.

[...]

One curious fact is that the hugely expensive US healthcare system - more than $4,500 a person, versus $2,000 per capita for the average OECD spending level - hasn't made Americans, on average, longer-lived. Life spans in most industrial nations are a year or two longer. And most of them have relatively more smokers.

Posted by: ConcernedAmerican | August 27, 2003 10:13 PM

ConcernedAmerican:
I'm not going to discuss your numbers (although it may be interesting to learn from somebody with an intimate knowledge of the US healthcare system where these 40 millions of Americans go when they're either sick or dying. Shall I assume that bodies are piling up in the streets?) because this kind of rhetoric is typical of the constant French propaganda (congratulation) I mentioned in the previous post, and all I could answer honestly would be something along the line of: "So? What's your point exactly?"

Indeed, before I "check my facts" as you put it, (and before you tell us what kind of facts I'm supposed to check considering that you're challenging my post by shifting to an issue - the US health care - that's not the one I addressed in the article - the French one) I suggest you check your argumentation and tell me how could any aspect of the American health care system makes the French one better and less expensive in absolute value (considering additionally the "slight" difference of income between the average French and American, but that's just a detail really and still not the point.)

Else, well, I have news for you: I have enough of the "You shouldn't complain/you should be happy because it's much worse everywhere else" arguments around here to keep me busy before I go check by myself if the grass is greener in Dallas' hospital.

In the meantime, bodies are piling up in refrigerated trucks on French parking lots and 51 people have only three shower rooms that aren't usable since they're used as cupboards.

Care to comment about that? Or did you post here just to fulfill your daily "Blame America first" assignment, even when America has nothing to do with it?

Yep, I'd say it's a bit amiss and inappropriate today, if you ask me.

Posted by: the dissident frogman | August 28, 2003 06:36 AM

And, as far as I know (my sources are some american people, so a priori they know better than me, and are as valuable as any other sources), the state pays for health care in case someone arrives at the hospital and can't afford it.
And, on the other hand, there are much more AC systems in america, which means that such a thing won't happen, or at least in lower proportions.
And, it is strange that we're the only country in the area who sufferred so many deaths. Maybe we have our own Hadley cell, and were the only ones to suffer from bad weather. Another french exception culturelle or is that america's fault?

What about the unclaimed bodies? Isn't it because everybody thinks that is is up to the "welfare state" to take care of them? Has it has been said at page libérale, it is obvious that since solidarity is now a state matter, who really cares about it?

Posted by: Guillaume | August 28, 2003 07:28 AM

"And, on the other hand, there are much more AC systems in america, which means that such a thing won't happen, or at least in lower proportions."

may someone explains me the "AC system" please ? for i can understand the meaning of this sentence :)

Posted by: Dann | August 28, 2003 01:39 PM

Concerned American, I cannot speak for where YOU live, but here in Texas NO ONE is turned away from a hospital. Ambulances come straight across the border from Mexico and dump off people--and we don;t turn them away either. I too have intimate knowlledge of our health care system and I will take IT any day over what passed for health care in France over the last 3 weeks.

And yes, the grass is greener in Dallas. Because we water it. We also cool the patients in the summer and keep them warm in the winter. (Granted its not cold by French standards, but we keep 'em warm!)

Again, my sincere sympathy to the caring families such as yours DF who had to watch helplessly such suffering.

Posted by: Val | August 28, 2003 01:59 PM

tell me how could any aspect of the American health care system makes the French one better and less expensive in absolute value

Like I mentioned before 40 million Americans are without health insurance, how many French can claim such a prestigious honor?

Are you vaguely aware of the prohibitive costs of prescription medications in the US? That's why MILLIONS of Americans get their medical subscriptions filled in (oh God) socialist Canada!

Have you compared US mortality rates/ Life expectancy versus any other industrialized nation? Did you know that Japan, which has an infant mortality rate that is half that of the United States and a life expectancy average 5.2 percent better, pays only 44 percent of what Americans pay?

Are you aware that Americans pay twice as much per-capita in medical costs, roughly $4,000 per person compared to others covered by "socialized" medical systems.

Are you aware that private U.S. insurance companies on average take 14 percent in administrative costs, that's just paper work costs to handle the behemoth that US healtcare has become.

America's for-profit healthcare does not match up with market myths about efficiency and service. Instead it is marked by lack of choice and massive corporate welfare.

Sure America is great and I consider myself lucky that I was born here, still I do not let that cloud my judgement or engage in knee jerk bashing of other nations or peoples culture. So the French do not embrace air conditioning, who cares? When I was an officer in the Army my offices in Germany did not have air conditioning, neither did my quarters or those of my men, we understood it was a cultural thing and didn't whine about it.

I enjoy reading your board from time to time, I use it mainly to improve my French skills and for the most part just lurk, but this is one topic I couldn't resist sharing my input.

Regards,

CA

Posted by: ConcernedAmerican | August 28, 2003 02:22 PM

CA:

Thanks for today's row of "Blame America First".

Just wondering: what part of "in absolute value" don't you understand?

Posted by: the dissident frogman | August 28, 2003 02:25 PM

Concerned American, I cannot speak for where YOU live, but here in Texas NO ONE is turned away from a hospital. Ambulances come straight across the border from Mexico and dump off people--and we don;t turn them away either.

Hospitals in the US are prohibited from deny critical care to whomsoever needs it. The fact that they are arriving in an ambulance leads me to believe that this is emergency care.

Did you know that the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the US is hospital bills? They won't turn you away but by God they will follow you up for payment.

I too have intimate knowlledge of our health care system and I will take IT any day over what passed for health care in France over the last 3 weeks.

Same here. But the French case was compounded by unseasonal weather conditions and lack of air conditioning systems.

And yes, the grass is greener in Dallas. Because we water it. We also cool the patients in the summer and keep them warm in the winter.

I have been to Dallas several times, but was irked by the fact that I had to travel to the next county just to get a bottle of wine. I do love San Antonio ;)

I'm from Minnesota.

Regards,

CA

Posted by: ConcernedAmerican | August 28, 2003 02:32 PM

Thanks for today's row of "Blame America First".

Just wondering: what part of "in absolute value" don't you understand?

Sorry Frogman, I'm just going by OECD statistics:

http://www.oecd.org/document/39/0,2340,en_2649_201185_2789735_1_1_1_1,00.html

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/10/20/2789777.pdf

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/10/20/2789777.pdf

http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/10/20/2789777.pdf

I don't understand why you fell the need to engage in ad hominems, i'm not as you say "blaming America first" (whatever that means). Let's just stick to the argument. Please provide links to your statistics.

Regards,

CA

Posted by: ConcernedAmerican | August 28, 2003 02:41 PM

CA:
Maybe my turn of phrase is not clear. Sorry about that.

Let me rephrase that with a more talking example:
My car has dirt in the carburetor and its performances are quite poor.
I'm pissed because I paid my mechanic quite a lot to take care of it and it's not working well.

Will my car works better and should I feel relieved because you choose seat covers for your car, but once back home don't like the color or the fabric anymore?

Huh?

Let's just stick to the argument

Yeah well, precisely. Read again the post you're currently commenting and tell me where I'm comparing the US and the French system "statistically".

You shifted the argument Sir.

Sorry for not sticking to it, but I contracted the bad habit of not sitting and tending the foot at the snap of people's fingers.

It's incurable. Even the wonderful French health care system can't help I'm afraid.

Posted by: the dissident frogman | August 28, 2003 03:02 PM

Im an American with no health insurance and I would NEVER want to switch to a socialized system. Ive gone to the hospital on several occasions. In America, if you pay ANYTHING per month, even $5 towards your medical bills, then that has to suffice for the hospitals. They cannot take any sort of punitive action against you. I may be paying that $5 a month for the rest of my life but thats nothing for access to the best health care system in the world.

Posted by: Mick | August 28, 2003 04:07 PM

More liberal propaganda, Heny Penny the sky is falling. Not only does EVERYONE have a right to emergency service at a hospital regardless of ability to pay, but also there is a little thing call Medicaid that every working American pays 1.5% in payroll tax to. This IS health care for the POOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. GET A CLUE. A bet the bleeding heart liberals never even seen a poor person.

Posted by: John | August 28, 2003 04:36 PM

As a clinical pharmacist in a large trauma center county hospital in the US I can attest that we "give away" most of our drugs when it comes to homeless or those without helthcare. We ask for payment, but the ability to pay has no bearing upon our requirement to provide care. This is the same in all of the county hopital inpatient or out patient clinics.

The tax and spend philosophy is not the answer. The 40 million un-insured still have the best health care in the world... and it is FREE.

Posted by: bkg | August 28, 2003 04:37 PM

ConcernedAmerican - I don't understand your point. There are many people in America without health care, you're right, but no one in America goes without hospital services. The Americans who have insurance are all paying for the ones who don't have insurance. If you don't believe me, check any large hospital's financial records, and search for the term "indigent care." No one in America suffers from lack of care, whether insured or not. Americans are as healthy as anyone on the planet. As far as cost is concerned, America's average salary and average poverty level is also much higher than that of other countries, and many drug and equipment manufacturers charge Americans more, but charge other countries less, like developing countries. You should be proud that America never turns away anyone from a hospital, and proud that America indirectly subsidizes healthcare for the rest of the world.

Posted by: Henrik Mintis | August 28, 2003 04:47 PM

part of why prescription prices in the US are so high is because Americans finance all research and development of new medicines. the socialized health care systems opted out of paying for their medicines at prices that the companies could afford to do r&d. If Europe and Canada actually paid their fair share, US prices for prescriptions would go down. Without us, there'd be no new medicines. Your selfishness means we pay for it but one day you'll have a cure for AIDS and a cure for cancer because of us. Of course, by then Europe will probably claim that America is to blame for AIDS and cancer.

Posted by: infamouse | August 28, 2003 05:09 PM

CA, regret you were unaware of either Tony's Wine Warehouse & Bistro (owned and operated by French emigres) or Sigel's, vendors of fine wines. Both deep in the heart of Dallas. If they would not have what you require, there are the numerous grocery store wine & beer sections available.

No, the majority of people being hauled in via abulance are not emerency cases.

Must concur with our gracious host that discussing the American health system
does not pertain to his original thoughts. Thank you for your patience DF.

Posted by: Val | August 28, 2003 05:23 PM

CA:

As a fellow American (or do you spell that Amerikan?) who happens to work in the health care system, I'd like to set a few issues straight.

1) The vast majority (97%+) of hospitals are not for profit.

2) It is illegal to turn a patient away because they have no insurance. I know many hospitals that run operating deficits because they treat indigent patients.

3) Medicare pays ~ 50 cents on the dollar for hospital charges.

4) Private health care insurers base their payments off what Medicare provides.

5) Having also worked in the health care manufacturing industry I can tell you that many companies turn 10%+ of their revenues into research and development. Without this R&D we would not have the advances in health care that we do. In my industry there were no significant manufacturers outside the US because they could not survive financially. In the company I worked for (I'm back into not for profit health care again) we were the No1 provider in the world and well over half of the business was done in the US. WHY? Because the rest of the world can't afford the equipment even at cost because of socialized medicine.

6) Yes infant mortality is too high in the US. However, the vast majority f babies are born in Hospitals which are terrible places to deliver. Complication rates for home birth accross the US are far less (no this is not a self selecting group). That is why my little boy was born at home.

Posted by: Jim M | August 28, 2003 05:40 PM

CA: Like I mentioned before 40 million Americans are without health insurance, how many French can claim such a prestigious honor?

This sounds a lot like the "every Frenchman/Canadian/etc has FREE medical coverage" canard. There is no free lunch. French citizens pay exorbitantly high taxes to get that health care, drug benefits, etc. Instead of laughing at the plight of Americans who choose to buy their prescription drugs in Canada, Canadian citizens should be absolutely up in arms that their taxes are subsidizing Americans' drugs.

CA: Are you aware that private U.S. insurance companies on average take 14 percent in administrative costs, that's just paper work costs to handle the behemoth that US healtcare has become.

And what overwhelming percentage of the French government bureaucracy is devoted to managing the huge entitlement programs there?

Please. You are comparing apples to oranges. You cannot get something for nothing. Providing and managing health care costs money.

BEN

Posted by: Ben | August 28, 2003 05:43 PM

I think this whole story with the french health care system, unclaimed family members, shown the essence of France. They are selfish socialists. Worst of both worlds, so to speak.

Je trouve que cette histoire avec les hopitaux francais et les morts toujours pas reclamés par leurs familles, montre bien la quintessence de la France. Ce sont des socialistes egoistes. La pire des deux mondes, si vous voulez.

Posted by: GreatDane | August 28, 2003 05:58 PM

CA - "But the French case was compounded by unseasonal weather conditions..."

Yep. But I also read a statement from a French Government Minister, when the toll stood at 3000, that this was not very significant because it was "only" 300 more than normal...

Posted by: John Anderson, RI USA | August 28, 2003 07:35 PM

America has a socialized health care system. They are called the VA (Veterans Affairs) hospitals. I'm a Veteran and you wouldn't get me to go into one of those places. Before I will listen to any suggestion of National Health Care I want to see the US fix the system it already has.

The Canadians and British seem to care enough about their social contract that they can muster enough resources to make their national health care systems work. America has a different social contract and frankly we will not comitt the resources to make such a system work. France I observe through the eyes and words of DF and it would seem that the social contract in France shares this particular weakness.

However all of this misses the point. In the Chicago heat wave older floks died because their social network had failed. No one came by to see how "Old Mr. Jenkins" was doing and so no one knew that his fan broke or that his AC unit had not worked for years. The heat was the proximate cause of death. Neglect was the root cause.

I hope that the French can get past the finger pointing stage and start planning for next summer.

Posted by: Stan | August 29, 2003 01:23 AM

My grandparents were very poor people. Both grandmothers lived into their 90's. They did not suffer for lack of health care. As they got older both grandmothers required increasing amounts of medication. They weren't turned away for lack of money from a doctor, hospital, or pharmacy (where you get medicines).

The state payed for most of their treatments. They had a very small amount they needed to pay out of pocket, somewhere between $3 - $5, per doctor visit and per presription refill.

They both also lived in public housing for the elderly. The state paid most of the rent and they paid a certain % of their monthly social security. They were also eligible for meals as well.

Until they became elderly and retired both sets of grandparents had contributed to social security because they were hard working people all their working lives. They were able to live in low rent apartments when they were working. However, when they retired they could no longer even afford low rent housing. They had no savings, no house. However, they did just fine in their old age.

They weren't on the streets and they didn't suffer because they couldn't afford doctors or medicines. I think our state and federal geovernments have excellent programs to take care of those who can't afford to take care of themselves.

Posted by: Christa | August 29, 2003 01:39 AM

Could it be that some of the "40 million Americans" could be uninsured by choice? The National Center for Policy Analysis : http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba/ba379/
You can do a Google search for "uninsured by choice".

On another note, it's instructive to notice that Europe has now become am amoral postmodernist pleasure swamp, where holidays for bureaucrats are more important than dying seniors. Chirac came back well tanned after 10,000 had already died.

Thank God I live here, where we value the freedom to DO more than "freedom" from life's potential dangers. Europeans have socialized risk out of their societies, and have thus created an idealess wasteland of welfare beggars and snotty intellectuals.

America is where it's at. This is where it all happens, because we are not afraid of risk. Socialism IS failure. Like you didn't already know that...

Posted by: E.Legall | August 29, 2003 01:53 AM

Socialized medicene: Why would you ever entrust your health to the government? There is a signifigant conflict of interest, all you do is cost them money.

And because the bills are being paid by the government, it decides that it can tell you how to live your life. After all, if something happens because you are not taking care of yourself, the government will end up paying for it.

Could you imagine being told what to eat for your own good?

Posted by: ErikZ | August 29, 2003 04:30 AM


The government does not always mess up when providing health care. In Chicago, Cook County Hospital just underwent a $550 million renovation that has given the doctors the conveniences and design improvements they want, while replacing the infamous patient wards with semiprivate rooms. The old facility, though falling apart, boasted the premier trauma center in a city filled with prestigious hospitals and now it has adequate facilities.

It's pretty sad that the French hospital system crashed and burned this year -- The Spectator (UK) did an article praising every aspect of his hospital stay, from the attentive nurses, the excellent food and the splendid teamwork. Granted, the author was from the UK, where the NIH hospitals do not enjoy a good reputation.

As for differences in life expectancy, perhaps America's fairly high infant mortality rate and murder rate would explain shorter American life expectancies. And, of course 9/11 did us no favors in that department.

Posted by: Warren Eckels | August 29, 2003 07:07 AM

This exchange of experiences and opinions was quite an education for this Greek doctor. Thank you people for taking the time to write down what you know. Reading you I have learned a lot about the US health care system. While working here in Greece I had always the annoying sensation that our health care system was devised primarily to help the doctors and other civil servants make a living and that the occasional cured patient was just a by-product of that original goal. We have air conditioning in 90% of the hospitals though.

Posted by: kukuzelis | August 29, 2003 12:15 PM

I've been without health insurance in the U.S. for long periods. It wasn't great - but you can make do. I've been overseas without health insurance. That's a lot easier than doing it in the U.S., and is pretty darn good for minor ailments and maladys. I've been to what was essentially govermentally funded healthcare in the U.S. - and it blew big beefy chunks - but it was free. More interestingly, at the state-run free healthcare places I've seen in the U.S. the system was roundly abused. If you're not paying the bills, there's no reason to exhibit any measure of self-reliance or good judement.

I've also had family members in long-term care in both private and state facilities, with funding coming from all over creation. The private facilities (oddly enough) didn't hold a candle to the VA facilties. This, I think, has a lot to do with the influence on VA care at the state level, and it just happened to be in a state where they gave a rat's ass about their vets. On the other hand, getting the social security office was a complete disaster and screwed me out of some $30 grand. The VA facility was, if I remember correctly, after VA and SS benefits, something like a buck per day.

What does this have to do with anything? About as much as CA's posts do with the topic at hand - interesting stuff, but just not pertinent to anything at all and certainly not a reasonable basis for forming healthcare policy.

Posted by: Anticipatory Retaliation | August 29, 2003 05:11 PM

My father is a physician in a public health hospital in the US. He works long, difficult days long, running from one emergency to another. He tells me most patients feel little responsibility for their health. Many make highly questionable lifestyle decisions which result in crises for which they feel no responsibility. They generally see no reason to change their behavior once the crisis has passed. The state picks up the bill for the massive health care charges they run up. No one is ever turned away.

Incidentally, he works in Louisiana, whose summers consist of exactly the sort of weather that killed France's thousands. I need not add that thousands do not die each year, alone and neglected, in Louisiana's summer heat.

On a related note, he has patients who can afford private health insurance but see little point in paying for it when state-funded care is so readily available.

I experienced the national health care system in Canada. The quality of health care in the United States is significantly better. And for the poor there are many options. When I had a health emergency in graduate school in the United States, for which the bill would have been impossible for me to pay, the private hospital that treated me picked up part of the bill because my income was low. They took excellent care of me, knowing before my treatment began that I would not pay the entire bill. My physician was the best oncologist in the city.

Posted by: kj | August 29, 2003 09:04 PM

American Pharma co's who charge US citizens more for perscription drugs because they're subsidizing foriegn markets is a fact. It's another example of how we contribute to the world. Anti-Americanism is a fact too (man, travelling around the world, I've had my share for sure. It's IN YOUR FACT) and it's just sad how few people appreciate our contributions. Japan too, to a lesser extent, subsidizes the world. If they weren't so polite, they'd probably be pissed about it too.

It blows my mind when liberals criticize "big corporations" as if it isn't these same corps who're employing their families and making RD breakthroughs. Sure, once in a while you get bad apples like Enron etc. But how many rotten apples would you see if the media turned as much attention to the liberal whiner groups as they do the corps? But if they did, they'd probably be called fascists, racists etc.

I love France and have spent many wonderful summers there. I hope the French people wake up and smell their wonderful coffee!

Thanks DF for the forum.

Matt

Posted by: Matt | August 29, 2003 09:24 PM

IN YOUR FACT = IN YOUR FACE

Posted by: Matt | August 29, 2003 09:25 PM

CA has a credibility problem in spite of his throwing OECD statistics our way. Millions of Americans have their prescriptions filled in gasp, ugh, horrors, `socialist' Canada. I don't think so. Just where exactly are these millions located? In Maine at Calais/St. Stephens? In New York state at Plattsburgh/no Canadian town, village, ciity at the border? Buffalo/Fort Erie? Lewiston/Queenston (there isn't even a shop in Queenston let alone a pharmacy)? Niagara Falls/Niagara Falls? Detroit/Windsor. Vermont, New Hampshire,Ohio, the Dakotas and westward until one gets to Washington State. - all crosings where there are no Canadian habitations within miles of the border. Look at a map and see for yourself that millions of Americans, and franchement la there really aren't that many `millions', even if they live near the US/Canada border rarely cross anywhere near a city or town with a pharmacist beavering away to fill their prescriptions. .The cost of travelling to an area in Canada where those prescriptions could be filled would certainly jack up the price of those medications wouldn't it?

Posted by: Millie Woosa | August 29, 2003 11:59 PM

CA

I work for a high volume bankrupcy attorney. The main reason people file BK is change of income. Yes, medical bills are a contributing factor since you have to list all your debt; however I have rarely seen anyone file primarily because of medical bills.

I would like to know where this statistic of "millions of Americans going to Canada to get their perscriptions filled" comes from. Are millions of Americans crossing the border to do this or is this online?

Also, as mentioned by Mr. Frogman, his point was to show us a collassal failure on the part of France's medical system. 11,000 people died in two weeks, and that is absolutely ridiculas. Heat stroke has nothing to one's tolerance to high temperatures. It is an accelerated condition that occurs to prolonged exposure to heat and when the body becomes too dehydrated. It is a nasty, nasty way to die, yet it is so easy to prevent. Where were the civil servants? What sort of action were they taking?

Here in Texas, there are plenty of communities that can not afford AC. However, during the summer months there numerous public announcements on how to avoid heat stroke. There are charities, city officials, etc who will deliver free fans to those who need them. The local fire department in Austin, for example, will also go door to door and check in folks, especially senior citizens, in low income communities. Many of fans delivered are donated from Sears and The Home Depot. Drinking lots of water (gatorade helps too) and a couple of fans can make the difference between life and death. Sure you will be uncomfortable without AC, but you will live. Very simple measures could have prevented such deaths. Again, where were the "civil servants?" What exactly are they paid for?

Posted by: Ms. Andi | August 31, 2003 05:37 PM

Clarification.

When I mentioned Mr. Frogman's "point" it wasn't just on this particular post. I meant to respond to all his posts on the recent deaths in France. However, this thread on this gentleman's poor father is related to what is really happening in France's medical system and may help explain the situation.

Posted by: Ms. Andi | August 31, 2003 05:53 PM

"may someone explains me the "AC system" please ? for i can understand the meaning of this sentence :)"

As no one has yet been so kind as to answer Dann's question, I will clarify: AC is an acronym for "air conditioning", a concept that should actually be called "air cooling" as very few AC systems actually "condition" the air. We of the english-speaking world are sometimes over-fond of acronyms, which can get unintentionally hilarious when two well known groups or concepts adopt the same sets of initials (such as WWF being either the World Wrestling Foundation or the World Wildlife Fund.)

Posted by: B. Durbin | September 2, 2003 11:11 PM

Lets talk morality too. My Canadian healthcare system and the willingness of my neighbours and government to steal drug research from American companies is an embarassment. It seems to me to be closely related to socialism. Cause or symptom? Who knows. Canada has become a nation of envious sneak-thieves. We don't even have the courage to mug you. We'll just pick your pockets.

Posted by: Fred | September 5, 2003 12:21 AM

I used to work in healthcare cost and utilization analysis. The 40 million uninsured Americans have nothing to do with French health care. As a side point, I'd like to note that the uninsured (like me) still have access to health care, and it's free, if you're poor. (Poor in America mean an income of less than $16,000 for a family of 3.) In addition, most of these people are between ages 18 and 40, and the bulk of them are men. They don't usually need insurance.

I would rather be paying fee-for-service in America than getting 'free' health care from any socialist system I'm aware of. I value my health, and my doctor values my money. In a socialist system, where the doc gets my money no matter what quality of service I get, there seems to be some sort of disconnect. I don't mean to disparage the professional ethics of any healthcare provider working in a socialist system, but in my experiance the profit motive is much more motivating than social duty.

As far as drug research goes, America isn't the only country with a large pharmaceutical research component; the Swiss and British both have large drug industries - that makes, what, nearly 2% of the countries in the world?

I've been told by MD's that heat stroke is hard to recognize if you've never seen it before. Also, these were really abnormal temperatures in Europe. I'm not really surprised by the lack of AC in homes; here in Seattle, which has a climate like Britian, AC is rare, and only used by those who have it in their homes an average of 6 days per year. I have a friend with a $3,000,000 home - he built it without AC. However, I can't imagine building a hospital or office building without good AC. I think the inflated price of electricty in France might have had something to do with that.

Posted by: David D | September 5, 2003 06:38 AM

There's an insurance program for low-income kids in Texas; it costs $16.00 per month for the entire family. A friend who works trying to get families enrolled has been told often: Why should we pay $16.00 when we can get anything we need for free? These folks use the Emergency Room for everything from insect bites to childbirth. (Infant mortality rates, anybody see a connection?) My niece works in billing for a small community hospital; mostly the uninsured use false addresses so bills are useless. Is this better than "national healthcare"? YOU BET IT IS. As one of our fellow posters said: We have it already in the Veteran's System. I see a lot of medical records from VA facilities. The amount of money being simply thrown away is astounding. It is common to see a guy in his 30's with back pain walk out with a half dozen prescription drugs. The VA staff seem most interested in keeping their own jobs intact and keeping patients coming back for more drugs AKA "treatment." There are whole sections devoted to finding victims of "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder"...more drugs and more "treatment." I'd love to see a comparison of how much it costs to handle similar cases in the VA versus the private system. It would probably make me sick.
Finally, when's the last time you saw a sick poor person dying in a ditch in the United States...EMS would be there with an (air-conditioned) ambulance in 5 minutes.
Now if only we could stop the maggot lawyers from suing our medical system to death...
Merci
Je suis Acadienne (Louisiana)

Posted by: Beth Reasoner | September 10, 2003 12:32 AM

Oh shucks, one last thing: My cousin does research on cancer treatment. she informs me that it costs A BILLION (not a million) dollars to bring a chemotherapy drug to the public. And do these companies ever get a thank you note?

Posted by: Beth Reasoner | September 10, 2003 12:39 AM

Just a side note: several years ago, French government started the CMU (Caisse Maladie Universelle) to provide "free" health care to the SEVEN MILLION people living in France without access to the previous health care system.

Huh ? Seven millions ?

Let me tell you: free health care is not for everyone, EVEN in France, EVEN with the CMU. My parents, for example, had no access to neither, despite being French and living in France. If they went to the hospital, they had to pay bills.

Free Health care in France is another french lie.

Posted by: Kotrin | October 7, 2003 08:10 AM

?SEVEN MILLION people living in France without access to the previous health care system?
This is perfectly true. At that time the ?40 million Americans don?t have insurance? line was already popular.
Maybe the American system is not good, maybe socialism is the right thing, I don?t know.
But I would like to give my own experience of the French ?so generous? public hospital.
At that time, I didn?t have any health insurance.
I had my nose broken in a violent shock with someone else?s head. My nose was bleeding from a large cut on the bridge. I was dizzy from the shock, a friend of mine took me to the hospital, to the emergency room?
The nurse there told me I had to wait (patients with insurance had priority). So I stood 3 hours. When I asked the nurse for a tissue or something to sponge my nose and stop the bleeding she answered me she couldn?t do anything until a physician had seen me. So I used my shirt ! Yes ! my own shirt, there, in the emergency room. The floor was stained with blood. Everybody was staring at me but no nurse no physician nobody cared. It was weird because I was inside the hospital, but not really. So close but not there yet. Without that health insurance, it was like I was invisible. A second class citizen.
Finally a nurse came to me and drove me to a physician. He just touched my nose : ?yes ! It?s broken, but here, we don?t have the equipment to see how bad it is, your going to have to go to another hospital and then go to see a specialist? Actually, I just needed x-rays !
Then he let me in the arms of the nurse (well, she was very kind, at least). She put a few strips on my cut and I went away.
A few weeks later I received the bill from them.
That hospital is near Vincennes, a suburb of Paris.

The last time I went to an emergency room, it was early in the morning, this summer (I have now an health insurance), I found nobody there. Fortunately, it was not really an emergency (just a bad conjunctivitis that kept me awake all night) but there was nothing except a board with this written on it : ?come back later?
That hospital is the Hôpital Bichat-Claude Bernard in Paris.


Now, everybody has to know our social security system has a huge deficit. It is stretched to the maximum (that explains the heat mortality of this summer and the lack of personnel). But somebody is going to have to pay. Socialist or not.

Posted by: Ram | October 10, 2003 06:15 PM