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Le illusion

Sara Paretsky, in an article in the NYT 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.