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Health Care Systems


Currently, many developed countries work to improve issues that directly relate to their healthcare systems. These countries are focused on identifying and prioritizing the needs of public health. In the United States, the government is improving the healthcare systems by funding health education, public health programs, and health research. On the other hand, the health system in France is arguably the best in the world. It should be noted that the French health care system is made up of a comprehensive network of public, private hospitals, and other medical service providers. This paper aims at comparing and contrasting the health care systems in the United States and France.

Health Statistics and Costs: Comparison between the USA and France.

Health statistics in both the United States and France shows that the growing elderly populations threaten to increase the costs of healthcare. As a result, the increasing costs of medical treatments will cause inflation of public spending priorities (Muennig, 2007). For instance, in the United States, inflations in health systems will imperil Medicare and Medicaid, leading to deficits in federal deficits. While in France, the hikes in costs of health care create insufficiency of resources that endangers the commitment to maintain low budgets (Holtz, 2013).  If one compares the spending of the two countries, America spends much more on its health care system. The United States spends 16% of its GDP, while France spends 11% on healthcare (Sultz & Young, 2006). Moreover life expectancy within the American population stands at 78.1 years, while the French are expected to live for 81 years on average (Gusmano et al., 2010).  In addition, 17% of Americans pay for the personal health care expenses as compared to 13% in France (Sultz & Young, 2006).

In contrast, although the French health care system is one of the most expensive ones in the world, the costs in the United States still outpace those in France. One should note that France spends $3601 per capita on health care as compared to America’s $7290 (Gusmano et al., 2010).  Furthermore, despite spending about twice as much as France on health care, the United States is still behind in lowering the mortality rates from preventable diseases. For instance, mortality rates due to heart diseases in Manhattan and Paris reflect the mortality differences between the United States and France (Sultz & Young, 2006). The contrast in more pronounced with age. For the population from 65 years and above in Manhattan, the mortality rate due to heart diseases is 60% higher than in Paris (Muennig, 2007).

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Health Care Financing in the USA and France

Like in the United States, French workers and their employers pay for the bulk of their medical care through premiums assessed on gross wages. In France, the employers pay wage levies of approximately 13%, while the workers contribute 7 % (Sultz & Young, 2006). In addition, in the United States, private insurers account for nearly three times the share of total expenditures than in France. Moreover, more Americans (17%) pay more out of their pockets than the French (13%) for personal health care spending (Gusmano et al., 2010).

It should be noted that the health care system in France is a compulsory system that requires people to direct at least 1% of their salary towards their health insurance (Almgren, 2012). However, despite these mandatory contributions, the citizens can choose to increase the percentage of their contributions to receive better health care services. In addition, the French government covers the costs of health insurance for citizens who earn less than 6,600 Franc annually. In practice, all French citizens can access the health care systems because they have insurance covers or they are covered by the State (Kirch, 2008).

Healthcare Administration in the United States and France

In the United States, the regulation of health care seemingly works best through non-governmental regulators such as the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (Almgren, 2012). It accredits over 15000 health care providers based on such criteria as patient treatment, performance, and quality improvement (Almgren, 2012). Secondly, the National Committee for Quality Assurance accredits most healthcare plans. On the other hand, there are governmental regulators of the two socially funded programs (Sultz & Young, 2006). The Center for Medicare and Medicaid services governs the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The federal and state governments in the USA play a substantial role in the funding of health care through Medicare and Medicaid (Kirch, 2008).

The Ministry of Health is responsible for health policies that affect health care for French nationals. The ministry has the responsibility to administer and manage resources necessary for health care expenditures (Sultz & Young, 2006). The National Health Authority was set up in 2004. It aims at bringing together a number of activities designed to improve the quality of patient care and promote equity within the health care system. Although, it is not a government body, it is mandate by the law to undertake some functions in health systems (Greenwald, 2010).  These functions include assessment of drugs, accreditation of health care organizations, and certification of doctors. On the other hand, the Ministry of Health constantly creates regional institutions and agencies to improve the efficiency of health care. These agencies are tasked with improving the coordination of ambulatory and hospital sectors to meet the needs of the population with regards to the provision of health care (Holtz, 2013). In France, most hospitals and their physicians lie predominantly in the public sector, and about one third are salaried. While in the United States, the regional medical centers are closely associated with medical education and research. Therefore, they benefit from the relatively low-paid services of interns and residents (Almgren, 2012).

Health Care Personnel and Facilities in the United States and France

There are more than 14 million workers employed in the US health care (Greenwald, 2010). Health care personnel encompass all workers in direct patient care and support services who are employed by private and public facilities. It also includes personnel in home healthcare and emergency medical services, self-employed, and volunteers. In addition, there are about 5,686 registered hospitals in the United States (Sultz & Young, 2006). These include community hospitals, federal government hospitals, and non-federal psychiatric hospitals (Holtz, 2013). On the other hand, about 65% of hospitals in France are public owned and managed facilities. While private hospitals, not-for profit facilities, and those owned by religious organizations constitute about 18% of health facilities (Greenwald, 2010).

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Access and Inequality Issues in the United States and France

Based on the above information, it is evident that there are more health disparities in the United States than in France. It is one of the reasons why President Obama pushes for the Affordable Care Act to allow many uninsured and under-insured American citizens to access comprehensive coverage (Steele & Price, 2007). It should be stressed that there exists health disparity between the population with high incomes and those with low ones. The citizens with high income have access to quality health care and contribute comprehensively towards their insurance plans. On the contrary, low-income patients face difficulties in accessing optimum health services (Almgren, 2012). Surprisingly, some health care professionals are prejudiced towards low-income patients. They treat them differently from patients with high income that enables them to access cutting edge services. Furthermore, American citizens with wealthy backgrounds have better scores on other factors that affect health care (Sultz & Young, 2006). Most of them are educated, they maintain a routine for physical exercises, and eat healthy food. On the other hand, the poor Americans are likely to engage in unhealthy living habits such as smoking, physical inactivity, and poor diets (Muennig, 2007).

On a further note, when compared to France, there are many American citizens who are not insured.  In the emphasis, all French nationals can access health care system through their own contributions or under the coverage by the State (Steele & Price, 2007). However, in the United States, the health care system seems to favor the high-income population. For example, when applying for insurance cover, individuals are required to choose a package that covers certain types of treatments and make payments for that package (Greenwald, 2010). Therefore, the cost of insurance varies based on the package the insured has chosen. Moreover, health care services receive little funding from the government. This means that if an American citizen does not have an insurance cover, he or she must pay the full cost of treatment. In addition, programs like Medicaid and Medicare are limited in terms of treatment people can access.


From the above-mentioned, it is obvious that the health care system in France is more comprehensive than in the United States. First, most Americans are not insured while the French nationals access health care services under their personal insurance cover. Moreover, the French government has moved in to cover those citizens who cannot make to pay for their insurance costs. On the other hand, despite the shortcoming in the American health care systems, the French system still spends less of its GDP on healthcare as compared to the United States. The state-funded programs do not provide for the required basic care and therefore, a significant percentage of American are forced to pay the expenses for their personal medical care.