Nationalize U.S. health care


This letter appeared in the Houston Chronicle (Houston, Texas) on 18 October 1993.

This item may be cited as M. R. Franks, Viewpoint: Nationalize U.S. health care, Houston Chronicle, October 18, 1993, at 15.

Copyright © 1993, M. R. Franks

Dear Editor:

As a law professor who has just returned home after spending the year abroad teaching in France, let me tell the people of Houston what European health care is really like:

In Houston, an inhaler used to treat my daughter's asthma costs $24.67 ($22.39 for the refill). The very same inhaler, identically packaged under the very same trademark, costs $6.47 in France.

An office visit to our doctor in Paris never required advance notice of more than a couple of hours. He never once kept us waiting for longer than 20 minutes after arriving in his office.

For this, he charged $18 per visit. But health insurance -- which costs less in France than in the United States -- picked up 80 percent of both the prescriptions and the doctor's visit.

I had laser eye surgery while in France. The total bill for both eyes came to $130, but French national insurance covered 100 percent of that charge.

Doctors even make house calls in France.

I found the quality of medical care in France excellent. The statistics seem to bear this out: The heart-attack rate is less than half that in the United States; life expectancy in France is longer than in the United States.

People with major illnesses do not face bankruptcy in France, nor is a quarter of the population without health coverage. Indeed, less than one percent of the population in France -- only the illegal aliens -- are without coverage.

Our system of medical care in the United States is terminally ill. Congress must perform the radical surgery needed to excise fully the malignancy of exponentially growing, exorbitant medical costs. The system should be nationalized now. We should declare the pharmaceutical industry a public utility and regulate its rates.

Health insurance should be put into the public sector, and doctors' and hospitals' fees need to be regulated.

We must act now, before this arrogant and obese patient dies of its own grotesque distension.

M. R. Franks
Baton Rouge, La.

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