Thursday, December 26, 2019

Socialized Medicine Is Crashing in France

You probably do not care to hear about how socialized medicine is not working in Cuba or how well it was not working in the former Soviet Union. You set your heights higher, on the glory of medical care in France.

After all, you know how good the French care for their citizens, and you also know that it’s all free. You probably do not know that the medical care system is sucking all of the life out of the French economy. And you might not know that a government that has promised to care for people, not just in hospitals, but through a generous pension system, is going broke.

I am sure you know that the Macron government’s efforts to rein in the French pension system have produced endless crippling strikes… but the French seem to think it’s par for the course.

Anyway, hospital residents in Marseille have just gone on strike… to demand better training, better treatment and a more effective medical system. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren might believe that socialist medical care is spectacularly good in France, but the people providing it do not agree.

Before quoting the Associated Press report, I would point out a source for potential confusion. The striking physicians are variously called interns or medical students. If I remember my French well enough and recall the time that I spent working in French psychiatric clinics, I will assert that the French word interne corresponds to what we call resident physicians, physicians who have completed medical school but who are learning specialties, like psychiatry or heart surgery. 

With that caveat in mind, here is the story:

Nestled in the cinderblock complex of Marseille’s sprawling La Timone hospital stands the intern residency building, home to a community of French student doctors holding an exceptional, open-ended strike to demand a better future.

Protesting interns in white coats and blue hair nets wave signs made from brooms and bedsheets, tooting trumpets and banging drums.

It sounds like American universities, where adjunct faculty are routinely charged with teaching courses to undergraduates. For the universities the virtue of the practice lies in the fact that adjunct faculty are paid so much less than tenured professors. And besides, the students would not know the difference anyway.

So, the problem lies in cost-cutting, in a country that is going broke fulfilling its promise to provide medicare, or its equivalent, for all:

France’s vaunted public hospital system is increasingly stretched to its limits after years of cost cuts and the interns at La Timone — one of the country’s biggest hospitals — say their internships are failing to prepare them as medical professionals. Instead, the doctors-in-training are being used to fill the gaps.

If France cannot make it work, what makes us think that we can.


Freddo said...

And keep in mind that for at least the last two decades hospitals in the country side have been closing. Of course no young hotshot doctor dreams of working in the country side, so no strikes at that time.

Sam L. said...

Maybe we're smarter than those Frenchies? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.