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Peering Into Our Future?

Mathieu Bédard, who often comments here at the Cafe, sent the following e-mail to his American friends.  I post it, and the accompanying photographs, here with Mathieu’s gracious permission.


Dear American friends,

I really hate to rub it in, but a man forewarned is a man forearmed.

As some of you know, I’ve been living in France for almost 7 years now. I am pretty much blessed with a good condition, so I never had to deal much with the French healthcare system until my son, Arthur, was born in May 2009.

During holidays Arthur had to be hospitalized for a few weeks when he caught the H1N1 flu on top of his already severe bronchiolitis. He’s alright now, but his stay at the hospital was hard on him. Attached are some pictures of his room in the pediatric service of Hopital Nord, Marseille, that I thought I’d share so you get a good idea of what “world class universal healthcare coverage” looks like.

On this first picture you can witness the comfort of world class state provided healthcare. Now, my son is obviously too young to use the bathroom, but this room was in the pediatric service, where kids up to 14 years old actually resided while trying to recover. Notice the seatless toilet (great for kids!), the mold in the corner, the paint job… all a kid needs to ‘get well soon’ at a “world class” level.

A hole in the wall through which live wires come out. In a pediatric bathroom. Really.

It was wintertime and the window was stuck open, but don’t worry, THEY TAPED IT SHUT.

The great economist Thomas Sowell stressed a lot lately that healthcare probably isn’t what influences a population’s general health level most, and that standards of living and other factors usually brought about best by the free market probably weighed in a lot more. I’d go a step further, and say that even when on individual cases healthcare is what’s going to make a difference, some level of material comfort is still necessary, like, say, WINDOWS THAT CLOSE DURING WINTERTIME.

Truth is your healthcare system won’t become this “world class” overnight, and your system’s complexity might very well provide better (or worse) results than our system’s complexity, but it’s good to keep in mind what the things to come might be like.

Hoping this mail doesn’t turn out to be prophetic,

Mathieu Bédard