Letter: Healthcare Is A Right

The French may have a few complaints about their Assurance Maladie, their government-sponsored universal healthcare, but if you ask any citizen of France if they would trade their healthcare system for American private insurance, they would laugh. Even after several trips to France, I had never given much thought to that fact until six weeks ago, while vacationing in Paris. One evening, I missed a curb and fell on the street, fracturing my left femur. I had surgery the next day at Cochin Hospital in Paris and spent three days there. I had excellent care, and the surgery, according to my Florida orthopedic surgeon, was perfect. It was also free.

The citizens of England, Australia, Germany, Sweden, France and at least 13 other countries enjoy government-sponsored universal healthcare. Not many of them would rather be put in the position that millions of Americans now face of losing healthcare for their families or going bankrupt trying to pay for needed care. It simply doesn’t seem right that a corporation should profit entirely from the illness and misfortune of any of us. If the rest of the industrialized world can figure this out, why can’t we?

Gwynne Chesher, Wellington


  1. :: can of worms opened ::
    But what do the citizens of those multiple countries that you have listed think of their exorbitant tax rates going towards the free surgery and aftercare of a foreigner? Perhaps not universally welcomed. While I certainly would agree with you that corporations rendering bloated profits while a regular citizen like you or I fighting to get our yearly blood labs covered provides bad “optics” for the insurance industry; the alternative is…?
    We’ll use France as the example, since you had your unfortunate accident there. Today, their personal income tax rate is 45%, corporate tax rate 31% and if you get social security it is 59%. These are all significantly higher than in the States. To say nothing of the level of choice. It sounds like you had a very good and competent surgeon in Paris, which is very fortunate. Perhaps not the same good fortune if you are locked into sub-standard doctors in Toulouse, Montpellier or Rouen.
    Which on the subject of good fortune would bring us to your other point regarding those who would have the misfortune of going bankrupt due to unfortunate circumstances. Given both our understandings of human nature, what then is to prevent people from simply rationalizing that if they are getting services like healthcare, education, food and shelter for free from the government…why work? Let someone else grind it out for twelve hours a day and take home less than half. Those who speak of healthcare as a right tend to sidestep addressing the responsibilities associated with providing it.
    I agree that our system is not perfect and certainly could use oversight. But while the grass across the pond may look greener; perhaps a broader swath of people who are actually paying in would have a different perspective. Otherwise, why do so many attempt to come here looking for opportunity. It certainly isn’t for the free healthcare.

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