Healthcare in France

We are supposed to have the best healthcare system in France, aren't we ?

So, why is it that:

- to get an appointment, you have to wait 6 months, unless you go to a private doctor who is as expensive as in america without enjoying the "malpractice" law ?

- why is it that for retirees without this "complementary insurance" called "la Mutuelle" it is so hard to be treated ?

- Why is it that doctors read your "carte vitale" and when they see that you have only the state insurance " the CMU", they just give you pills without making any X-RAYS or additional tests ?

- Why is it that doctors and hospitals use you as a guinea pig without being afraid of being sued ?

- why is it that they have ethical rules that forbid you to know who you are consulting before you go in the doctor's office, pay for consultation, and then find out that you don't like this doctor.

- why is it that they give no information on their doctors or staff? Education, experience, reviews ?

- why is it that they decide for treatment without consulting you, or with such small information that it is hard for you to know what they are talking about ?

- why is it that in hospitals, when a doctor or hospital comes in your room while you are hospitalized, they put you naked in front of a lot of students without respecting your privacy ?

- why is it that they don't cover you when they have to do tests or exams ?

- why is it that you are treated more like animals than human beings in hospitals ?

I have a health problem which needs surgery and no doctor wants to tell me the specifics, and when I ask for more information, they just say : "I cannot respond or treat you because you ask for so many questions. Therefore, I will refer you to another doctor". But this other doctor would be the same because they are all trained the same.

My point is: There is no democracy, no real treatment, no "malpractice suit", no information, and if you want to have a real treatment , then you have to pay for it, like in America. So what's the point to be"social" and pay so much taxes for it ? I used to have a private insurance in America for less than 200 dollars / month, and I was treated like a queen. But nobody in Europe knows it, and especially not in France when they think, thanks to the government's advertising, that it is the best country in the world for healthcare !!! Let's just analyze the facts.

Oh, I forgot: They don't even have the latest equipment for tests or MRI: They always are at least one or two equipment generations behind.

Are any politicians loved anywhere? I doubt it! They are all the same no matter which party they are from!

They have had some bad press at UHW, but remembering what I read, it is related to staff issues (shortages of nurses as usual, doctors too to some extent) and some 'neglect' that occurred. To be realistic, cutbacks in the NHS are bringing up the numbers of complaints for which the government should answer. So Kathleen, since things do change, be prepared for possible shocks, sad to say. We left Wales, but from Swansea, after five years there and the Singleton Hospital was unimpeachable whilst we lived there, also bad reports are coming from there. Mr Cameron and his cabinet are not loved at all in Wales.

I have noticed a couple of times in this thread negative comments about Cardiff healthcare. My goddaughter lives there and I did for a while.

I attended UCHW, aka The Heath, for broken bones and a couple of times as an outpatient. Recently my goddaughter's baby was rushed in and the treatment was exemplary.

I worked in three Cardiff hospitals as a teacher, The Heath included, (OK it was in the 80s/90s and maybe things have changed), but having free access to any ward I saw nothing untoward and heard no complaints from patients.

I think we must accept that there are plenty of positive experiences and opinions too and nothing is unremittingly bad. As always, bad news is more newsworthy than good news.

I am not belittling any one else's experiences and I am certainly glad that I have been in France for the excellent treatment I have had here. Having never been ill or in hospital before I came here I have no personal experience of the NHS as a patient but I have no complaints about French patient care. That includes GP, consultants, auxilliary services, clinic and hospital.

My goddaughter is trying to persuade me to move back to Cardiff so maybe I'll find out the situation for myself!

In my 12 years of residence here myself and my aquaintances have had only very good experiences with the medical service at all levels. Incredibly quick and thorough leading to a positive outcome. And in my case it is not because I am a rich American or Anglais. I survive on less than €550 a month so that can not be a factor.

If MICHLE has such a bad view of the system here I am surprised that she doesn't move on to somewhere else where she can enjoy the comfort of the litigation option to cushion her from real life.

Now that really is an overestimation of the French! 600 million? I believe it is a bit short of 66 million including dependencies.

Your precious USA works if you can afford to be in the health system, which many millions (perhaps more that the French population) cannot and then it depends on which insurance one can afford. I have several US friends who are choosing to stay in the UK where they have paid into the deteriorating NHS plus have private top up or Switzerland, where healthcare is only private but superior to what they would expect if they went home. I asked one recently, being pension age like me in 2013 what he would prefer, his answer came back in few words that included his family were all born in Cardiff and that is where the children have return after studying, so that is where he stays, but he hopes he never falls ill on one of the few trips home to visit over the rest of his life. He didn't explain, but it is easy to guess.

So much bitterness, so much anger and no suggestions for what would make things better FOR YOU!

Hi Jane:

I am glad than someone has understood that they cannot have the same system healthcare for everybody: too few hospitals and staff for the popultion of 600 millions people. Since there are no competition and no private hospitals (only cliniques and they cannot afford sophisticated equipments), well, they do it in this way: person to person. If the doctor likes you - for any reason - age, background, nationality, religion, etc., then he would try his best. Otherwise you are part of the "troupeau" - song of Jacques brel (VERY REALISTIC INDEED), Abd tgus goes for the schools, jobs, anything. You are a number and if your number goes out, then you are lucky. If not, then you are left with "the troupeau" - mal soigne, no concern. C'est reconnu: il n'y a aucun professionalisme en france, et pour cause ! Le gouvernement tient les reines !

You should lighten up as they say Katherine :-) or is "chill" the more modern phrase?

I guess you're a republican then Katherine :-)

I think Michale Moore might disagree with your assessment of US heath care Katherine.

Please let's not argue. I understand we have different experiences. You were perhaps luckier than I have ever been.

I know one thing: I am trying now to get an appointment with a cardiologist and they are all from sector 2 and sector 3. They charge an additional 120 to 300 euros additional. I don't have a Mutuelle because I came back from the States 6 years ago and I was already too old to get a Mutuelle or I would have to pay a fortune for it. So I have no choice than making an external consultation with a doctor in a hospital. If I want a good one, I'll have to wait from 3 to 6 months. I have a lot of different health problems, so if I have to see private doctor for each problem I have I'll end up giving my small retirment pension: 800 / month. I am lucky I made some money in the States that helps me live. If I have to wait for France to make money at my age, I'll die before. In america, you can work until you drop if you wish too.

So I have my reasons, and you have yours. I stayed, as I said 25 years in America where I opened an interior design business. I came back for personal reasons - family - otherwise I would never have come back.

I hope I answered your questions if you had any. So when I speak about retirement in france, I know what I am talking about. And I have degrees, license, etc. So My analysis here: since everything belongs to the government, they don't have enough jobs for everybody. So they make a selection according to age mostly, and also other criterias.

If you don't agree, I respect your point of view but nobody would convince me that France is the best country in the world. My point is: if we were free and were paid as we should, then we won't need the government social healthcare. A private insurance will give you way better healthcare. Also, the lack of information we have in France about who is the doctor, what is his experience, what university he went to, etc, is for me not very democratic.

Again I speak from my own point of view. Nobody has to agree.

"What should be interesting indeed, is where you come from, what is your country policy, why you are in france, if you speak french and interact with french people, government, education, business system and incorporation, all these things are important in my view to be able to juge a country."

I'm French (as I said before, and I was born French, more than 45 years ago). That is one of the many reasons I live in France and it is germane to my reaction to what I'm reading as jejune and solipsistic invective.

As for my living/working/studying abroad I did it alone, bar two countries where I was sent for work. I was single. Minimum stay in any one country 6 months. Does this satisfy your criteria for objective judgment?

There is an organisation for the victims of medical mistakes and so on. They do not provide support as such but advice on how to take action. It is very likely that in this case we have somebody who already knows all about that and is not eligible for help anyway.

I am not sure why you had to wait so long for an appointment. I have never had to wait more than two weeks for any sort of appointment with any specialist (4 weeks if not private) which compares favourably to the waiting time in the UK. For an MRI two weeks is the longest and the radiology centre in the hospital in Monaco (not private) is as advanced as anywhere in the world.
The suing bit I agree with you. I have had surgery which went badly wrong. Both surgeons in the operating theatre say it was the other surgeon that did the operation, the hospital has 'lost' my MRI's and x-rays (Esperance hospital in Mougins) and even though other surgeons admit the surgery was done incorrectly and caused damage no one will write a letter to say so.
As you say, the doctors are very loathe to give you any information at all. Is this unique to France?

Perhaps as Michle speaks such good English, she could find help on an English site.

Is there no organisation which might be able to help Michelle address her complaints and also provide support for her during this difficult time?

I totally agree Liz. It is a dreadful shame that Michle has had such an awful experience but I (and many others on here I am sure) can honestly say that I do not recognize the France that Michle is talking about.

I do not fit into any of your 'lucky' categories Michle but have never experienced discrimination as you have and I am a working immigrant, not an ex-pat. To put it in perspective I have been here many years both as a single person and as a married person, my kids were born here and I have always had to earn a living the same as a natural born French person. I have rented homes and I am now a home owner, it goes without saying, I have the language skills. I am also over 45!

Perhaps Michle, you could direct some of your energy into making a formal complaint to the relevant authorities as I do not think SFN is the appropriate outlet for your vitriol. Indeed, if you need any advice, we are here to help but as you know France so well, it is probably quicker and more productive for you to go direct. I wish you all the best in your quest for better treatment for your condition but it seems it might be easier if you were to return to the States.

It is a huge pity to see this thread become such an anti France rant, as someone whose profession is in the health service I know that the European sytem is light years ahead of the USA. I habe also been extemely impressed by the way the health system works here from a recipients point of view as well. I have found in the main, with the odd hiccup, that life here is good, the people we meet helpful and polite, but then I am here because I want to be, not because for one reason or another I am forced to be here.
I am sorry for the OP as her diagnosis is a challenging one to live with the perhaps is impacting the posts. I will not be coming back to this post again it has become rather unpleasant.

Hi Sheila:

Thank you for your concern about my aneurysm. That doesn't make me angry at all. I am very philosophical. I am angry at france since I was a teenager ! because, being french, and being a Jew and not an elite, I had no opportunity although I was very smart and always first in my class. I finally got a design licence in america.

And since I knew about my aneurysm, I went all over not the world, but in many countries: holland, belgium, america, Israel. No one was as arrogant as in france. No one wants to operate on you without telling you what they will do on you, no one would use old equipment to do A CT-SCAN ANGIO, and not one neurosurgeon said: I don't know what a ct-scan is like this french doctor - very famous indeed - who said he won't take my money because he didn't know what was a ct-scan. There is a procedure, new, very much practiced in america, called "PIPELINE" which is very exepensive, well in france, they don't use it !

So I have so many examples of why the french healthcare is mediocre that I would need a book or at least 600 pages to explain. That is in fact what i am doing: I am writing a book about social values and differences between civilized "or so called" countries.

I hope you'll join me in my blog called"un-politically correct". Have a nice evening.

By the way, do you know why there are not many french people on this site ? They don't speak english. If there were many french people, some of them would agree with me.

Ok, I am sorry. It is true that I feel a lot of people don't know france the way I know it. I come from a jewish family and have been discriminated upon in france, so I know what I am talking about. Plus I have an aneurysm and they just don't take the time to consider the options. Americans did, netherland doctors did, but not French.

Also, I have been insulted by many french people here who said that I was stupid or something: A lot of french people don't read or speak english as well as I do: I am completely immersed in the english culture. Many french went away for 4 or 5 years at most, and then they came back. I lived 25 years in america, 5 years in israel, 15 years in tunisia. I know what I am talking about. French people take the crumbs from the government and they feel happy. Do they know that if they made decent salaries they won't need governmental healthacare which mediocre, long waiting lists, lesser MRI equipments and tests ? To know a country you have to belong to that country. You have to work - not for the home company in france or wherever who send you and protect you, you have to go on your own living the adventure alone and non assisted.That how you can make the difference ! This is why I am opening an association for the non-politically correct. If you want to join me, be my guest !