The Health Care System Under French National Health Insurance: Lessons for Health Reform in the United States

VG. Rodwin
The American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 93, No. 1.

The French health system combines universal coverage with a public–private mix of hospital and ambulatory care and a higher volume of service provision than in the United States. Although the system is far from perfect, its indicators of health status and consumer satisfaction are high; its expenditures, as a share of gross domestic product, are far lower than in the United States; and patients have an extraordinary degree of choice among providers. Lessons for the United States include the importance of government’s role in providing a statutory framework for universal health insurance; recognition that piecemeal reform can broaden a partial program (like Medicare) to cover, eventually, the entire population; and understanding that universal coverage can be achieved without excluding private insurers from the supplementary insurance market.

Wagner Faculty