BusinessWeek Praises French Health Care System

     Prenez l'aspirin deux et m'appelez le matin.  (Translation: Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.)


     Never has a doctor blowing you off sounded so cosmopolitan, but if Kerry Capell of BusinessWeek had her way, Americans would import much of the “generous” French health care system.


     “France also demonstrates that you can deliver stellar results with this mix of public and private financing,” wrote Capell in her uncritical review of the French universal care system which only included experts who support that model. The story ran in the July 9 issue of BusinessWeek.


     Capell’s story was directly linked to Michael Moore’s latest propaganda-mentary “Sicko.”


     “The nation’s system isn’t quite as superb as Sicko maintains, but it’s pretty good,” stated the subhead.


     Capell praised Michael Moore’s “SiCKO,” not so much for its biased analysis of the American health care system or its gleaming portrayal of the French system, but for raising the dialogue about health care and exposing the public to the French system.


      “[W]hatever you think of Moore, the French system – a complex mix of private and public financing – offers valuable lessons for would-be health-care reformers in the U.S,” Capell wrote.


     Lacking from Capell’s piece was a dose of perspective about French health care, because she only included three experts: Victor G. Rodwin of New YorkUniversity, Daniel J. Pedersen of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and Shanny Peer of the French-American Foundation. All three made statements supporting France's system.


     As Kyle Smith pointed out in a review of “Sicko” in the New York Post, the French system is far from flawless. He specifically mentioned the August 2003 heat wave that claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 people in France.


     “The French parliament blamed the health care system. That’s five times 9/11’s toll, all of it preventable, all of it unlamented by Moore,” Smith wrote.  


     Capell’s praise for the “stellar” system became ironic when she stated that France is now dealing with “runaway health-care inflation. That has led to some hefty tax hikes” and the country is trying to find a way to “rein in costs.”


     To make the case for French-style health care reforms, Capell touted statistics like France’s lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancy and the “safety net” it provides for all French citizens as the primary reason for learning “the French lesson in health care.” She also used the World Health Organization health-care ranking, which lists France at number one, to bolster her claims.


     But the BusinessWeek correspondent did not mention where France ranks in global prosperity. The Global Prosperity Index, compiled by the Legatum Institute think-tank, ranks countries based on “personal wealth” and indicators of life satisfaction, including freedom of choice, healthcare and a country's climate.


     France didn’t even make the top 20.