It’s an amazing contrast, the American and the French healthcare systems.
One discriminates against the poor and leaves many without adequate care. It suffers from rampant fraud and is ruled by administrators instead of doctors and nurses. It’s perpetually broke and makes it impossible for anyone living in remote areas – anyone but the wealthy – to gain access to quality care.
Then there is the American system. At least we still have some notion of choice and freedom.
Back to France.
“I would never take my children to the hospital here,” Guillaume, the director at the school my children attended when we lived in an extreme suburb of Toulouse, told me one day. “They just don’t have and can’t afford the necessary care.”
France today is consumed in a healthcare nightmare. Strikes, budget cuts and an exploding deficit have transformed what was supposed to be an equitable system for all into a system ruled by administrators and characterized by unacceptably lengthy waits for emergency care and the centralization of services that many do not have access to. Only the very rich can find ways around the problems.
Between the unions and the government, healthcare workers in France are getting a raw deal. This cartoon by dessindepresse shows a potential healthcare worker having his legs split apart by competing forces in the unions and the government that make it impossible for him to get a job. Nationalized healthcare would be an even worse disaster for the USA.
President Obama, of course, doesn’t see it that way and seems hellbent to spend yet another trillion dollars we don’t have to emulate the broken systems of our European friends. He’s all excited about technology, especially medical record systems that would cost something close to $80k for each practicing doctor. Mr. President, I love technology too, but some things just don’t make sense.
Hospitals have better choices now than socialism. Jason Lander over at Staffing Robot makes the case for smarter staffing and purchasing. He underscores how group purchasing organizations (GPOs) and hospital associations (HAs) can work a lot smarter and create more efficient markets for staffing medical facilities.
Lander describes both the risks and rewards of vendor management systems and, in my mind, how the decentralization of decision making creates a more competitive market.