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NewsletterSeptember 2009

Who am I?

French old tractor.

I’m an old tractor that took part in the Féte de la batteuse in the Haute-Savoie village of Pers-Jussy.

French Healthcare

I recently spent a three week vacation in the US. The debate about healthcare reform was going strong. France came up a few times, mostly by those opposed to the reforms being offered. I thought I’d put my two cents in about how French healthcare works, based upon personal experience.
French healthcare isn’t really socialized: the French state doesn’t run everything. What you have is government insurance (Assurance Maladie) on one side that covers about 70% of any given treatment. On the other side is a mix of private/public hospitals, doctors (most of whom are in private practice), nurses (many are independent and like doctors in private practice) and private (but heavily regulated) labs and pharmacies.
The government insurance is financed through taxes. Looking at my last pay slip about 13.5% of what I made (gross) was paid into the Assurance Maladie Fund. The accounting is to the advantage of the worker I paid .75% of my gross income to Assurance Maladie, whereas my employer paid a 12.8% tax on my gross income.
The 70% reimbursement figure is generally the lower end of coverage; long-term illness (like cancer) are covered at 100%. Many French have private top up insurance that covers whatever the French state doesn’t. From experience what seems to fall below 70% are things like medication and eye glasses. But I’ve noticed that medication in France seems to be cheaper than in the US even if you have to pay the full cost.
We don’t have private top up insurance but when we looked into buying some, monthly premiums looked to be about 100-150 euros per month for a family of three. Coverage varied but because Assurance Maladie covered anything long-term there aren’t any preexisting conditions. In fact I believe an insurer only has a right to minimal health information like age and sex.
To give you an idea of some everyday healthcare costs in France; it costs 22€ to see a doctor (it’s more to see specialist), 70% would be paid by Assurance Maladie. The patient cost is 6.60€. In November of last year my son had an appendicitis and spent fives days in the hospital. Our total bill (it was just one page) came to 98€.
That’s not to say that French healthcare is all roses. The Assurance Maladie’s general fund is in debt to the tune of billions of euros, has been for many years. I like the healthcare I’ve received in France but finding the money to pay for it isn’t easy. Also some areas have a shortage of doctors and nurses.

Got Milk II

I found another (see the photo in April 2009 newsletter) fresh milk dispenser in Reignier, a nearby town where I used to live. This one isn’t as nice, no cow on top. But the milk is fresh!

Expat Expo

In my capacity as a real estate agent I’ll be at the Geneva Expat Expo table F7, just down from my good friend Mike Beaudet (F1) of Ski Pro Megeve. The Expat Expo is Sunday October 11th, 2009 from 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM. Admission is free and the location is Palexpo, Hall 7, next to the Geneva Airport.
Over the summer I added quite a few properties to my Property French Alps web site. Many are in La Clusaz and the surrounding area.

American-style primaries

As I Tweeted the French Left isn’t anti-American. Case in point the flagship party of the French Left, the Parti Socialiste (PS), has decided to hold American-style primaries to choose its candidate for president in 2012. Details are thin right now but the hope is to have up to a million French voters help chose a candidate. It’s hoped that candidates will come from a number of Left parties not just the PS, thus offering a candidate of a united Left for the first round of the president election.
In the past each party of the Left has presented its own candidate in the first round. Whoever made it to the second round had just two weeks (the time between the first and second round vote) to unite the Left. Or as was the case in 2002, so many candidates splintered the vote and none made it to the second round.
News link

Journées européennes du Patrimoine (European Heritage Days)

This two-day event is held every September throughout Europe; this year it takes place on September 19th and 20th. The basic idea is that Europe gets to show off its architectural heritage. Most public monuments are open free of charge and many private ones are either free or offer a reduced rate. If you are anywhere in Europe, don’t miss it! You often get a chance to see buildings that are not habitually open to the public.

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