Free Health Care Leads To Not Free Health Care

Ask anyone on the street if they would be willing to see the needy get the medical care they need and the answer is a massive “Hell yeah!”.  But ask them HOW that is to happen and you get a whole bunch of, “Hell, I da’know.”.

And so’s the quandary of the average American.

And so it is, when faced with work, and love, and school and bills and and and…we are willing, almost demanding, that this burden be taken from us and handled by someone else.  The Genesis.   The lightning striking the mud.

I can’t, indeed don’t wanna, doubt the nobility of the man that desires the best for his friend, his brother, his neighbor.  This be wages, or shelter, food or medicine.  However, desire is separate from action.  One requires the self to fulfill the goal, the other, well, only requires that someone fulfill that same goal.

And so it goes.  So it goes that we have those on one side saying that those on he other must provide.  Not that “they” must provide for “us”, to be sure, but that “they” must provide for “they”.  It is this silly reasoning that causes Liberal Leftists to send their children to the best private schools while forcing the rest of us to send ours to public schools.


So, what happens when this condition meets reality?

Imagine if in nearly every town in America, there was a public health clinic that offered completely free services for parents and young kids. Whether you were rich or poor, you could drop in without an appointment for a checkup, vaccination or to ask the questions that plague new parents. The clinics would focus entirely on keeping you and your children healthy.

In France, they’ve had such a program for more than six decades, and it’s been remarkably successful at helping French children get off to a good start.

Sounds great.  Sounds like a system I would like to see here.  But:

But now the system is being threatened by economic woes and immigration pressures.


So what happened?

When the French maternal and child protection system, called the PMI, began in November of 1945, there wasn’t much thought about frozen fish.

“It was right after the war, so there was high child mortality. There were malnutrition problems,” says Dr. Brigitte Lefeuvre, who is in charge of children’s preventive health at the French health ministry.

Today, she says the PMI clinics are still open to pregnant women and children up to age 6, even those in the country illegally. And unlike at private doctors’ offices, there are no out-of-pocket costs.

“Every child, even the richest, has this right,” she says. “This is absolutely not based on charity.”

But the clinics are doing much more now than they did 65 years ago. An army of public-health nurses help mothers who feel isolated or depressed. They try to prevent and detect childhood disabilities and mental health problems, and teach positive parent-child interactions.

“All those health problems are going to cost money or are going to make those people less able to deal with work, for instance, or less healthy, and should be addressed when they are younger,” Lefeuvre says.

To be sure, the clinics are successful.  How couldn’t they be?  Free care for everyone….costs be damned.  But, and there is always a but…the price will be paid:

Back at the clinic in Corbeil, after the game of Bebe Nut finishes up, some of the mothers discuss why they come to the clinic instead of using their health insurance to see private doctors for routine checkups.

Fatoumata Traore, a Senegalese immigrant, lives with her four children in the decaying public housing projects just outside the clinic doors. She says she prefers to come here because she doesn’t need to pay. There are many professionals in the same place, so she can see a nurse, then a doctor, she says. She also says she thinks the doctors and nurses have more time to answer questions.

This kind of unfettered access, though, is now in danger of being eroded. France’s economy is sputtering along, unemployment remains high, and local French authorities are struggling to maintain services.

Dr. Claudette Buisson oversees the 60 PMI centers in Essonne — a large area south of Paris with middle-class suburbs and poor outposts like Corbeil. She says that over the past year, she’s lost a third of her budget, in favor of other local necessities like schools and roads. She’s closed two clinics and is considering closing more.

So why is this occurring?

But the clinics — where visits are free — are becoming more essential for middle-class women for other reasons. Private pediatricians are retiring en masse. And young doctors aren’t choosing the low-paying field of family medicine. Those who remain are charging more than government insurance pays, which means French families are reaching deeper into their pocketbooks.

It turns out that young smart people tend not to go into business where they are paid a pittance for years of grueling education.  And guess what?  When they don’t, the price for their now unmet services goes up!

I understand that people should care for each other.  I do.  But that is a problem that needs to be addressed at the human nature level.  Not the governmental.

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