Originally created 02/25/02

A striking difference

Heaven knows, the U.S. health care system is far from perfect, but be grateful that we don't have the socialistic mess they have in France.

In this country, if you need emergency care you can get it - even if you don't have the money to pay for it. If you need surgery, you can usually have it scheduled pretty quickly and can be reasonably certain your doctor will show up to perform it. That provides some peace of mind.

But not in France. French doctors have gone on day-long strikes twice in the last month, forcing the nation's emergency care system into crisis mode and resulting in cancellations of hundreds of non-emergency surgeries some patients had waited months for. Now they'll have to be rescheduled, and who's to say another strike won't yield more delays?

What the doctors want, of course, is more pay. Under France's socialist system, physicians can only get what the state decides to pay them. If they want more, they have to strike.

Though doctors' income in the U.S. has come under pressure since the advent of HMOs and some government meddling, they are still operating, in good part, under a free enterprise system that pays them a lot more than French doctors and doctors in other socialist countries.

The difference in financial rewards is strikingly demonstrated by the fact that when French doctors take the day off, you'll likely find them on the streets carrying placards. When American doctors take time off, you'll likely find them on the golf course trying to lower their handicap.

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