Thursday, August 20, 2009

My Experience with Health Care in Sweden and France

For a general summary of Swedish health care, go here.

As a Swedish citizen, I benefited from Swedish health care for over 40 years. It was free and served me well. Once I had a serious ski accident, broke my leg into three parts, and got the best treatment you can have for free. Of course, I paid taxes that funded medical care but this seems normal.

For a general summary of French health care, go here.

I moved to France in 1987. Part of my salary went to finance health care. I received excellent health care in France – a government-run program – after breaking an ankle. France actually has the best health care in the world. This has NOTHING to do with socialism. It is a long tradition in Europe, going back to Bismark in Germany.

In Sweden, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists, our Left and our Right, all agree on the health care system we have. I do not know one European who would want the American system. In general, Europeans pay half, or less, compared to Americans, for good health care. There is nothing wrong with a government-run program, and it is much cheaper, in fact. In Sweden, you can choose your doctor. Some doctors are more popular than others, and it may be necessary to wait for treatment, but in an emergency, like my accident, I received excellent care immediately. Had I wanted to see a specialist, one was guaranteed within 15 days.

I have had excellent medical treatment in the USA, too, but it has been so very expensive. When I moved here in 1997, my wife and I paid $250/month. That escalated to $1400 this past spring. Hair-raising! Crazy!

A lot of people in Europe and Canada feel offended by the way their countries have been described in this health care debate. Americans would be lucky to escape from the grip of insurance companies. How shameful to deny care to all those people who are uninsured!