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Americans Getting Health Care in France


Michael Moore is the director known for his fierce criticism of the American way of living and of the governmental and corporative interests that are valued much more than the lives and wellbeing of ordinary citizens of the United States. “Sicko”, the latest film by Moore (2007) is a documentary account of the director on the state of the Health Care and Health Insurance Systems in the United States. Moreover, the film develops the comparison of this system with the health care in France, Great Britain, Canada, etc (Moore, 2007). The focus of this paper will be the consideration of access to health care in France for American citizens. As Moore (2007) presents the French health care system as the most developed one in the world, in this paper I will examine the topic of Americans getting health care in France to see if the real situation is as good as Moore portrays it.

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To begin with, it is necessary to state that the documentary by Michael Moore touches on the drawbacks of American society (Moore, 2007). In “Sicko”, Moore (2007) first of all tries to understand why the American health care system, although being one of the most expensive in the world, fails to provide the US citizens with high-quality services and health care (Moore, 2007). Trying to find out the reasons for it, Moore concludes that the interests of the huge pharmaceutical corporations and the governmental agencies they support are contradictory to the interests of ordinary Americans (Moore, 2007). In other words, it is not profitable for a pharmaceutical producer that patients should be treated well. It would mean that they would need less medicine, which would, in its turn, reduce the company’s income (Moore, 2007). Accordingly, the health care industry works jointly with pharmaceutical industry in order not to increase the level of health care in the country, but to increase their incomes (Moore, 2007).

Moore on France

To illustrate all the drawbacks of the American health care system, Moore resorts to comparing it to the health care systems in Canada and the most developed countries of Europe (Moore, 2007). Among them, France is viewed by Moore as the role model for the American health care workers. Traveling to this country, Moore manages to directly examine the functioning of the local health care by attending hospitals, interviewing ordinary patients and medical workers, and making respective conclusions (Moore, 2007). For example, Moore argues that the citizens of France are covered by health care insurance better than the citizens of any other country in the world, and also states that Americans living in or visiting France, as a rule, receive better health care services at lower costs than they can receive in the USA (Moore, 2007).

For example, having visited the department of obstetrics and gynecology in one of the hospitals in Paris, Moore comes to know that for all the neonatal services, the French health care provides the $1 per hour funding. The most interesting fact is that this rule covers all the patients, even including foreigners, immigrants, and visitors from other countries. Moreover, there is a 24/7 service providing the patients with the opportunities to call for a doctor and be examined, diagnosed, and treated at home (Moore, 2007). Thus, Moore concludes in his documentary that Americans in France are more protected in respect of health care than in their motherland (Moore, 2007). However, let us see what the real picture of the modern French health care system is.

French Health Care System

Speaking about the French health care system, one should keep in mind that people in France are protected better than any other nation by their health care. It covers all the possible illnesses, while state funding covers over 70% of people’s costs on health care. On the whole, the French system can be viewed as a role model for the USA: “According to a United Nations report of a few years ago, France has the best health care system in the world.” (Steiner, 2009). This said it is significant that the French health care differs from the American rather substantially. First of all, there is a possibility in France to receive a general practitioner at home or at the hospital which will amount only to €22 per consultation. Nationality and French citizenship do not influence people’s chances to be examined and treated by the French medical workers (Steiner, 2009).

Further on, there is a developed network of drugstores and pharmacies in France. Their convenient locations in almost any, even the smallest, city or village and the low prices for medicals make the health care widely accessible and rather effective. According to the statistics, Shapiro (2008) argues that the life expectancy levels are Europe’s highest in France as infant mortality rates are rather low while the average life duration is the highest in Europe.

Taking this into consideration, the costs that the French health care system involves are almost two times as low as the American ones: “The United States spends about twice as much as France on health care. In 2005, U.S. spending came to $6,400 per person. In France, it was $3,300” (Shapiro, 2008). This fact can be explained by the differences in the health care administration. In the United States, health care is mostly privately funded, while in France the government takes care of its citizens. 21% of the salary of every worker in France goes for the health care system, while over half of this sum is being paid by the government so that the worker can distribute his or her incomes for other spheres of necessity or interest. Moreover, the prices for medicines are fixed in France making a person pay only 30% of their cost, while the rest of the sum is subsidized by the state.

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One more advantage of French health care is it’s being free of charge for the patients having the so-called “30 long-term and expensive illnesses” (Shapiro, 2008). They include diabetes, cancer, mental illnesses, etc. The patients with such diagnoses are treated free of charge. Moreover, they receive the state financial aids and open and fast access to the most expensive and updated medicals available in the country: “It’s a feeling of safety — that if you have a big problem, you could have access to the good therapy” (Shapiro, 2008). Even despite the current reports of the $9 billion debt of the French health care and the subsequent rises in the health care services costs, the French system remains one of the most modern and effective systems of treating people. All its advantages are accessible to all people irrespective of their nationality or status. A foreigner cannot get French citizenship without health care insurance, but the latter is accessible for citizens and non-citizens on an equal basis: “This is not a problem as there are more than enough companies selling health insurance for France and the international market” (Steiner, 2009).


Thus, it is evident that Michael Moore objectively presents the French health care system in his film. The data obtained during this research are useful for a more comprehensive understanding of the principles of this system as the role model for American society. Moreover, this study managed to prove the actuality of Moore’s arguments in the sense that the watchers of the documentary “Sicko” can now be sure about the truthfulness of information presented in the film. They also can take certain public actions to change the American system of health care because it is evident for them now that it is possible to have better health care at lower costs.


Drawing from the above-presented research data, it is possible to state that the picture of the French health care system presented by Michael Moore is objective. The state of health care in France is widely accepted to be the best in the world while involving the least costs possible. American citizens in France can easily access health care only by having health care insurance. The procedure of receiving it is simple and rather cheap in France. Moreover, the absence of bureaucracy and income-motivated health care initiatives makes French health care the most effective system, at least among the European countries.

Works Cited

Shapiro, Joseph. “Health Care Lessons From France.” 2008. NPR. Web.

Sicko. Dir. Michael Moore. With John Ehrlichman, Tony Benn. The Weinstein Company Lionsgate, 2007.

Steiner, Jeff. “Health Insurance for France.” 2009. Americans in France. Web.

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