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Le illusion

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Sara Paretsky, in an article in the NYT [2] entitled Le Treatment, described an emergency room in France and observes that rude bureaucrats in the French health system are worth putting up with, given the price:

Meanwhile, my husband’s heart and lungs were examined inside and out. He and his cellmate were both suffering from pneumonia, not heart attacks. They were given antibiotics.

At 2 a.m., when we were discharged, I offered my MasterCard to the surly gatekeeper. He said they would send us a bill. The doctor apologized for having to bill us, but we were not citizens, after all.

Six months later, the bill arrived. For X-rays, an EKG, 10 hours in the emergency room, a doctor, a cardiologist, technicians, nurses, drugs and even the surly gatekeeper, we were required to pay $220. I might put up with a lot of ugly bureaucrats for that.

That’s how the article ends. A bargain at twice the price. She seems not to realize that her $220 payment may not cover the full cost of le treatment and that the difference is made up by the taxpayers of France. Nothing like an expensive lunch masquerading as a cheap one thanks to the forced donations of others.

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