Today the Washington Post reported that the Senate Finance Committee's health care reform bill, if passed, "would require people to buy insurance or face penalties ranging up to $1,900, to be assessed on their income tax returns."
I laughed when I read that, and not in a gleeful way. Coming from France, or any country in the European Union, the very idea of forcing citizens to purchase their own basic health care or pay a fine of $1,900 is absurd. I would like to remind you that, in Paris, my private, comprehensive health insurance, which I must pay for because I am not a French citizen, costs €696 per year. That's $1,016.46 per year at the current exchange rate. And my coverage is terrific: 70% of regular doctor's visits, 100% of major medical. But you can read all about that in Getting Sick Part One, and all about how much French citizens pay in taxes to support the world's top-rated health care system in Part Three.
Today, for Part Four, I'd like to focus on what the French getin exchange for their income taxes. We already know what Americans get: public education through Grade 12, Medicare after age 65, and Medicaid for those below the poverty line (in 2009, a single citizen must make less than $10,830 a year to qualify).
By contrast, this is a short list of what French citizens get, and it bears mentioning that they get it whether they are rich or poor, employed or unemployed, young or old:
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