According to the World Health Organization, France is ranked number one in health care. At the same time the United States is all the way down at 37. So should we change our system to mirror the French system since it seems to outshine us so well? Well, that would drown us in horrible new taxes wouldn't it? Nope. In fact, you may be already paying for universal health care, but not receiving it.
To figure this all out, we're going to have to know how much the French actually pay for their health care system. According to BBC, France spends about 9% of their GDP on their system. The French GDP is estimated to be $1.9 trillion in 2006. 9% of 1.9 trillion is about 170 billion. France's population is about 64 million. That means that the per capita cost of health care in France is about $2,700. Multiply that by America's estimated population of 301 million, and you get a cost of about $813 billion. That is definitely a lot of money, but we may be already spending it on socialized health care in America. It is estimated that Americans spent about $2 trillion on health care in 2005.
Medicare and Medicaid are government run health care programs. The House Ways and Means Committee stated that in 2002, Medicare expenditures for the government were about $257 billion. At the same time, premiums paid by Medicare subscribers were about $231 billion. Medicaid on the other hand had a budget of $295 billion in 2004. So, the total costs of Medicare and Medicaid in America is about $783 billion, just $30 billion short of equaling the relative cost of the French system.
Government spending on health care does not even stop at Medicare and Medicaid. According the the Journal of the American Medical Association, the government subsidizes about 45% of US medical care costs, covering Medicare, Medicaid, workers' compensation, the Department of Veterans Affairs, public hospitals, and government public health activities. It is estimated that in 2005, Americans spent about $2 trillion on health care. If the government is paying 45% of this, they are actually spending about $900 billion on our health care system, more than enough to pay for a French health care system in America.
So, now we have to ask ourselves if we're up to the task of matching the French health care system in America. I say we can do even better. No system is perfect, including in France, but for $2 trillion we should be blowing the competition out of the water.
UPDATE: The two Wikipedia links were fixed.